Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How to fix meat inspection

It’s not inspectors in poultry-processing plants, but data and a scientific approach, that could improve food safety in the United States, say two public interest groups.

The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Center for Science in the Public Interest looked at poultry inspection in a number of countries to come up with a set of recommendations.

The United States Department of Agriculture is in the final stages of revamping its poultry inspection services.

Based upon its findings, Pew and CSPI recommend that:

-       The U.S. should commission comprehensive scientific assessments to evaluate its existing meat inspection approaches and alternatives for modernization.

  • While the U.S. needs to improve data collection, including analysis of results and real-time data sharing.

  • The government should evaluate incorporating food chain information and comprehensive data management and review into its meat and poultry inspection system.
Note that none of the recommendations come from looking at Canada, where our politicians continue to insist we have one of the best inspection systems in the world.

Most of the recommendations come from what the two organizations saw in Europe.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which is now housed at Health Canada instead of under Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, ought to take this new U.S. report to heart. It might actually lead to improved food safety.