Industry groups back federal plan to address foodborne illness Reply

By Richard Lobb on 2/1/2012

from (reprinted by permission)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The nation’s meatpackers are backing a plan by the federal government to get a better handle on which specific foods cause illnesses and death among consumers, saying the improved data can help fill gaps in the food safety system.

“The only way we can better understand what makes people sick is through this data,” Betsy Booren, director of scientific affairs for the American Meat Institute, said at a public meeting at USDA headquarters here. “By having timely, credible food attribution data, the food industry can accurately identify and improve any food safety gaps that may exist.”


USDA to roll out “modernized” poultry inspection system Reply

By Richard Lobb on 1/20/2012

from — reprinted by permission

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced today that USDA will all but abandon the food inspection system under which federal inspectors examine chicken and turkey carcasses on the slaughter line by sight, touch and smell and move to a modernized system stressing offline quality assurance.

“The modernization plan will protect public health, improve the efficiency of poultry inspections in the U.S., and reduce spending,” Vilsack said in a conference call with media. “The new inspection system will reduce the risk of foodborne illness by focusing Food Safety and Inspection Service inspection activities on those tasks that advance our core mission of food safety.”

Employees of the companies that operate young chicken and young turkey slaughter plants will be responsible for sorting out carcasses that exhibit defects such as bruises or broken bones, Vilsack said. A USDA inspector will be stationed at the end of the evisceration line, just before carcasses enter the chiller, to provide a final visual inspection and satisfy the legal requirement for carcass-by-carcass inspection. Other USDA personnel will work off the line conducting checks of the plant’s pathogen reduction program. More…

Dudley Butler resigns as head of USDA’s GIPSA Reply

By Richard Lobb on 1/19/2012

from — reprinted by permission

J. Dudley Butler has resigned as administrator of USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration, effective next week, USDA confirmed today. His resignation brings to an end a controversial tenure marked by an attempt to toughen regulations on livestock and poultry marketing.

Outgoing GIPSA Administrator J. Dudley Butler

J. Dudley Butlter resigns as GIPSA chief

“I want to thank J. Dudley Butler for his outstanding service as Administrator,” Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said in a statement. “President Obama and I believe fair and competitive markets are critical to the success of American agriculture, and Dudley has worked tirelessly to advance this cause. USDA looks forward to continuing this work on behalf of our nation’s producers.”


Obama asks for authority to consolidate agencies; concerns raised on foreign trade Reply

By Richard L. Lobb

January 13, 2012 from — reprinted by permission

WASHINGTON — President Obama announced today he would ask Congress for the authority to consolidate several federal agencies dealing with trade and business development, including the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), which negotiates agreements covering exports of beef, pork and poultry among many other products.   Concerns were immediately raised that the consolidation could hamstring efforts to promote U.S. trade.

Also affected by the consolidation would be the Commerce Department’s business and trade functions, the Small Business Administration, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Trade and Development Agency.

“We’d have one department where entrepreneurs can go from the day they come up with an idea and need a patent, to the day they start building a product and need financing for a warehouse, to the day they’re ready to export and need help breaking into new markets overseas,” Obama said.


FSIS baseline study of raw chicken parts to begin this month Reply

By Richard L. Lobb on Jan. 9, 2012

from — reprinted by permission

USDA’s Food Safety & Inspection Service will launch its long-awaited microbiological study of raw chicken parts this month, aiming to collect enough data to help set pathogen reduction performance standards for chicken breasts, wings, drumsticks and other parts.   USDA standards are now based on whole chicken carcasses.

The baseline will last about six months, the agency said.  The study will provide the government and the industry with “data concerning the prevalence and quantitative levels of selected foodborne pathogens and microorganisms that serve as indicators of process control,” FSIS said in a notice released Monday.    The notice is available at

USDA inspection personnel in each participating plant will collect samples of raw, unfrozen parts, shake them up in solution to get rinsate, and ship bottles of rinsate to a laboratory in Texas.


FDA will ban many uses of cephalosporin drugs in food animals Reply

by Richard L. Lobb on Jan. 4, 2012

from — reprinted by permission

The Food and Drug Administration is moving to ban many extra-label uses of cephalosporin drugs in cattle, swine, chickens, and turkeys, saying the drugs may cause failure of antibiotic treatment of life-threatening infections in humans.  The industry says FDA has little evidence that a problem actually exists.

“Antibiotics are a valuable tool in ensuring animal health and in producing wholesome food for the consuming public,” said Tom Super, vice president communications of the National Chicken Council.  “We question any substantive link or scientific basis between veterinary use of cephalosporins and antibiotic resistance in humans.”

FDA announced Wednesday that it will publish a notice in Friday’s Federal Register prohibiting the use of cephalosporin drugs in food animals for disease prevention purposes.  The agency said it would also restrict other uses of the drugs to the doses, frequencies, duration, or routes of administration that are already approved, and also to the species and production classes already approved.