USDA is stepping up food protection, not only from terrorist threats, but old-fashioned natural enemies as well. Dr. Elsa Murano, under secretary for food safety, points to data collected since 1998 that shows rates of Salmonella decreasing in all categories of products since the agency introduced its Pathogen Reduction/HACCP. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports a 23% drop in bacterial foodborne illness since 1996.
“Pathogen Reduction/HACCP is a multi-pronged scientific approach to improving food safety. While Salmonella testing remains an important component of the Pathogen Reduction/HACCP system, it is not the sole indicator of whether plants are meeting food safety standards,” Murano said.
“Our food safety experts are continually verifying, through rigorous reviews, that establishments have sound HACCP systems and sanitation practices that prevent and control hazards. We are aggressively targeting ground beef establishments that fail to control hazards and providing incentives to plants that use a decontamination step in their processes,” she added.
Murano said microbial testing is continuously being reviewed, evaluated and improved, with the ultimate goal of protecting the public and enhancing meat and poultry safety for consumers.