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House Ag Committee Holds Hearing on Meat Recalls

The hearing was looking at the increase of recalls and USDA's response to the situation.

A House Agriculture sub-committee held a hearing Wednesday afternoon reviewing recent recalls in the meat industry.

"We've seen close to 20 recalls related to E. coli and beef in 2007, with seven recalls in the last 30 days alone," said Ag Committee Chairman Colin Peterson, D-Minn. "To put that in perspective there were eight recalls for all of 2006."

Undersecretary for Food Safety Richard Raymond explained how USDA is addressing recent food safety issues.

"We are undertaking new, ongoing and soon to be upcoming actions to protect public health against the risk of E. coli 0157H7 including expanded testing and more rapid recalls," Raymond said.

Raymond also told the committee that more work needs to be done before a proposed risk-based inspection system is implemented.

"Based on what we have learned from the recent recalls, I believe we need to take additional time to strengthen our system and our data collection capabilities before moving forward with risk-based inspection in processing," Raymond said.

According to Raymond, top research, industry, consumer group and retail representatives will gather later this fall to further investigate the increased outbreaks.

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