Monday, June 29, 2009

Meat recalls

Most people don't really understand how the meat industry in America is regulated, or, that is, not regulated. For instance, a story entitled USDA Orders Largest Meat Recall in U.S. History from the Washington Post might give people the impression the USDA can actually order a recall.

It cannot.

Check out the report The USDA’s Authority to Recall Meat and Poultry Products, from The Congressional Research Service (CRS), a division of the Library of Congress. From the introduction to the report:
Currently, USDA does not have authority to mandate a recall of meat and poultry products. Rather, USDA, through FSIS, monitors food companies’ recalls. When FSIS learns of a potential recall, it convenes a recall committee, which makes recommendations based on information such as any pertinent production and distribution data provided by the company. Once the company initiates a recall, FSIS immediately issues a press release to notify the public, posts it on its website, and provides information directly to stakeholders — including Congress, the media, federal, state, and local officials, and constituents — via e-mail and faxes.
A little further on: "While USDA has statutory authority to prevent meat and poultry products from entering the food supply, it lacks authority to withdraw products already in the food supply."

All the USDA can do is a few inspections and inform people of voluntary recalls.

But surely businesses have the consumers health at heart, right? I mean, when was the last time you heard of a meat recall anyway? Vegetables get recalled all of the time.

The problem is, most people just don't hear about the recalls. For instance, did you know there have been 10 recalls of meat so far in June 2009 alone? And those are just the ones that are outstanding. Check out the full list at the FSIS active recalls. Then browse through the 53 archived from 2008.

Remember, these are only the ones the companies decided to tell us about.

1 comment:

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