President's Food Safety Initiative Must Include On-Farm Controls to be Effective, Says Food Animal Concerns Trust
CHICAGO, May 16 /PRNewswire/ -- "The President's Food Safety Initiative, announced this week in Washington, is a significant step toward reducing foodborne illness in the U.S.," stated Richard Wood, the executive director for Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT), "but no food safety system is complete until it addresses pathogens on the farm and recognizes that the genesis of many pathogens is in farm animals, their feed, and their environment." For example, cattle are the primary source of E.coli 0157:H7, which causes from 160 to 400 deaths each year in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. Eggs are the primary source for Salmonella enteritidis with up to 3,800 foodborne related deaths each year. "While the president's initiative calls for immediate steps such as educating consumers and monitoring foodborne illness outbreaks, the on-farm sections of the initiative are delayed and inadequate. The most common and dangerous foodborne pathogens originate on farms, and on-farm controls are essential if we are to decrease the incidence of foodborne illness," Wood stated. The president's initiative proposes voluntary Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) methods to reduce pathogen contamination on farms. HACCP is a process whereby critical points for controlling pathogens are identified. Control steps are then put into place at these points. The president's initiative does not include on-farm microbial testing to determine whether these HACCP controls are effective. FACT wants the HACCP controls and microbial testing to be mandatory, not voluntary, since producer participation in voluntary food safety programs has been far from unanimous. "In addition, for the president's initiative to be effective, a greater emphasis should be placed on eliminating foodborne pathogens in animal feeds," stated Richard Wood. Animal feed is a primary contributing source of pathogens for food animals. FACT believes that it makes no sense to feed pathogens to the animals that become food for consumers. FACT supports the application of mandatory HACCP controls and microbial testing to animal feed processing. Animal feed problems are buried in the president's initiative in the section titled "Long-term activities" and include no funding. Finally, many producers rely heavily on antibiotics. Fifty percent of all antibiotics manufactured by American pharmaceutical companies are given to farm animals, contributing to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant pathogens. "The president's initiative acknowledges this danger, but does not address the need to reduce antibiotic use," stated Wood. Food Animal Concerns Trust is non-profit organization that advocates better farming practices to improve the safety of meat, milk, and eggs. It also developed and operates a model egg farming system on 12 farms in Pennsylvania with a comprehensive Salmonella enteritidis testing and control program. The eggs are sold under the trademark NEST EGGS in leading supermarkets in the New York City area, the Washington, D.C. area, the Chicago area, and parts of Ohio.
SOURCE Food Animal Concerns Trust
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