NMA RESPONSE TO USDA'S FINAL RULE ON HACCP / PATHOGEN REDUCTION
Oakland, California: July 9, 1996 -- National Meat Association is pleased that the United States Department of Agriculture has completed work on a final rule on HACCP and pathogen reduction; a rule that will introduce HACCP in the regulatory scheme for meat and poultry inspection. HACCP is the foundation on which the regulatory inspection can be integrated with the activities of packers and processors to continue to produce the safest meat and poultry in the world.
NMA is also pleased that the Department has recognized that there must be a significant amount of time to change from the present command/control inspection system where the inspection personnel have the final word on conditions for operation, plant facilities, equipment, and other operating conditions to a system where federal officials monitor to ensure that the food is safe for consumption.
Though the industry still awaits final publication, NMA is disappointed to learn that the Department's regulation retains some undesirable command/control features. For example, the final rule includes the selection of arbitrary standards for specific pathogenic microorganisms at certain control points, a feature which contradicts the principles of HACCP and for which there is no sound scientific basis. Further, no scientific rationale is presented for different pathogen targets for meat versus poultry. Since Salmonella is equally harmful, whether it is found on poultry or meat, it is not feasible that the targets be different.
Finally, NMA takes great exception to the unsubstantiated estimates by USDA, as stated in its press release of July 6, 1996, that "4,000 deaths and 5,000,000 illnesses result annually from the consumption of meat and poultry contaminated with four major bacterial pathogens." NMA finds these exaggerated and unsupported estimates irresponsible and misleading and will work to have them corrected by USDA.
NMA and the industry are ready to work with USDA for the implementation of HACCP. NMA will address its concerns with the rule as published during the rule-making process.
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.