USDA is proposing a new requirement that would permit the Food Safety and Inspection Service to hold from commerce meat and poultry until test results for harmful substances are received. Currently, when FSIS collects a sample for testing, the sampled products are requested but not required to be held until test results are known. FSIS believes this requirement will substantially reduce serious recalls for meat and poultry products and reduce the amount of unsafe food that reaches store shelves.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack points out that while many establishments have similar policies already in place, this proposed requirement will allow government to provide an additional safeguard to ensure food safety. Meat and poultry products will be prevented from reaching consumers until inspectors have the opportunity to thoroughly evaluate test results.
FSIS inspects billions of pounds of meat, poultry and processed egg products annually. FSIS believes that 44 of the most serious recalls between 2007 and 2009 could have been prevented if this procedure had been in place.
The Federal Register notice announcing test and hold and soliciting public comments will be published in the near future. Once it is, the public will have 90 days to provide input.