President's Food Safety Initiative Must Include On-Farm Controls to be Effective, Says Food Animal Concerns Trust

May 16, 1997, 01:00 ET from 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
     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