USDA is the agency supposedly responsible for the safety of meat and poultry. Unlike FDA, which is responsible for the safety of just about all other foods, USDA gets to impose HACCP (science-based food safety regulations) on meat and poultry. It just doesn't bother to enforce its own rules. Hence recent events:
Consumer Reports, which for decades has been testing supermarket chickens for microbial contaminants, has just tested chickens again. Sigh. Two-thirds were contaminated with Salmonella or Campylobacter. You will be relieved to know that this is an improvement. It was 80 percent the last time Consumer Reports did the testing.
In an effort to get USDA and the poultry industry moving on this problem, Senator Dianne Feinstein (Dem-CA) has introduced a bill to prohibit the sale of meat that has not been certified free of pathogens. Based on what's been happening with meat safety, I'm betting it won't get far.
So let's talk about meat safety. For this, we should all be reading USA Today, which seems to be one of the last newspapers in America still funding investigative reporting. Its latest blockbuster is an account of the 826,000-pound recall by Beef Packers, Inc. (a subsidiary of Cargill) a few months ago. The meat made at least 28 people ill as a result of infections with a strain of Salmonella Newport highly resistant to antibiotics.