Policy & Politics
Pre-harvest Food Safety (national policy)
Issue: Pre-harvest food safety has become a topic of increasing focus, particularly in the beef industry. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced at the 2011 AFBF annual meeting that their next step in reducing E. coli is through pre-harvest intervention, and they have repeatedly re-stated their intentions. Farm Bureau participated in a pre-harvest food safety meeting for cattle hosted by USDA on November 9, 2011.
Background: FSIS is responsible for examining and inspecting the carcasses and parts of cattle at slaughter plants and meat processing plants that will be used for human consumption. FSIS has the authority to prescribe rules and regulations concerning the sanitation at slaughter plants and meat-processing plants. FSIS’s inspection authority is limited to the processing plant and meat products and does not extend to the live animal prior to its delivery at the harvest facility. However, the agency encourages beef producers to use pre-slaughter interventions. FSIS has stated that such interventions offer a significant opportunity to improve food safety because they may reduce the level of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) entering the slaughter plant.