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Legislation Would Give USDA More Clout on Food Recalls

By Amanda Brodhagen,

A new bill was introduced that would strengthen the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) powers on food recalls – meat, poultry and eggs. The bill has been put forward by Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D., Ct.) and Louise M. Slaughter (D., N.Y.).

Presently, the USDA only issues a recall if meat, poultry or egg products are thought to have been “altered” or changed. The legislation entitled “Pathogens Reduction and Testing Reform Act,” would oblige the USDA to recall products contaminated by pathogens, which may be linked to a serious illness/ or resistant to two or more important antibiotics for human medicine.

At this present time, the USDA does not recall meat or egg products contaminated with antibiotic-resistant pathogens, because the current law doesn’t require them to. If the bill passes, the new legislation would force them to recall those products that may be under question.

“This is an important piece of legislation that strengthens the Federal Meat Inspection, Egg Products Inspection, and Poultry Products Inspection Acts, said Tony Corbo of Food and Water Watch. “This bill finally brings our inspection laws into 21st Century.”

In the last year alone, there have been examples where illness could have been better prevented. For example, the antibiotic-resistant Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak that was traced back to chicken produced by Foster Farms, 601 reported consumers fell ill, with about 40% of them having to be hospitalized for their sickness. The USDA failed to recall Foster Farm’s chicken products because the law as it stands currently is unclear. This proposed law would provide the USDA with clear authority to protect the American food supply.

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