OAKLAND, CA -- National Meat Association learned this morning, through the broadcast media, that Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman has proposed legislation designed to give USDA additional authority to order the recall of adulterated or misbranded meat and poultry in certain situations. This legislation reportedly includes additional authorities for the Department to withdraw or refuse inspection and to impose civil monetary penalties for violations of the meat and poultry laws.

The Secretary’s action follows the recall of 25 million pounds of Hudson Foods' ground beef produced at a now closed Columbus, Nebraska, plant -- the largest ever recall of beef under the present legal authorities. The USDA’s investigation of what occurred in this instance is on-going. During the escalation from 20,000 pounds initially to the final amount of product recalled, the Secretary went on CNN Late Edition and said, "I’ve sent a SWAT team out to this particular plant because I want to send a signal throughout the industry that we will not tolerate practices which are incompatible with public health."

Today’s proposal was developed without any discussion with the regulated industry which has worked diligently to cooperate with the Department to change operating practices in order to ensure an absolute break between production days in commonly sourced raw materials. National Meat Association is concerned, because the proposed legislation shows that the Secretary is continuing to treat all beef packers as criminals worthy of a SWAT (Special Weapons Assault Team) team approach..

The Secretary’s anti-beef attitude treats the beef industry as part of the problem and not part of the solution. This is wrong. NMA has now written to the Secretary to invite him to meet with industry leaders at a beef slaughter and further processing plant and acquaint him with the intensive precautions that firms have put in place to assure the production of safe and wholesome ground beef and to invite him to enter into a discussion about these very serious issues.

NMA has worked and will continue to work with others in the farm to table beef chain to identify ways to improve the safety and quality of meat and meat food products for consumers. We encourage the Secretary to renew his Department’s research efforts to eliminate pathogens at the source.

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 firms throughout the United States, Canada, Australia and Mexico, is headquarted in Oakland, California.

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Jeremy Russell
National Meat Association
(510) 763-1533
[email protected]

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