July 6, 1998



OAKLAND, CA -- National Meat Association's Executive Director Rosemary Mucklow took time to write to President Clinton today to comment to him about his Independence Day message. The President had announced his plans to ensure that certain steps are taken to improve food safety. She told him his message had been helpful, but was incomplete.

"The largest percentage of foodborne illness occurs because those handling final food preparations fail to follow proper procedures to avoid cross contamination," pointed out Mucklow. "A reference to handle food carefully in your closing comments should have gone much further."

She went on to say that the legislative initiative to impose civil penalties on business over and above the laws really isn't going to bring the results imagined. You cannot legislate a microbe out of existence, but you can legislate companies away. Civil penalties would create further concentration in the meat and poultry industry by squeezing the small businesses out of the market, without providing any further food safety. The existing recall system, which has worked well in the past and continues to work well today, is proof that cooperation between industry and government is efficient and effective.

National Meat Association is a non-profit trade association representing meat packers and processors, as well as equipment manufacturers and suppliers who provide services to the meat industry. The association, with over 600 members throughout the United States, includes membership in Canada, Australia and Mexico.