- The Associated Press reports that the US General Accounting Office (GAO) says that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is not doing enough to ensure that food safety procedures at the nation’s slaughterhouses and processing plant will keep the public from consuming tainted meat and poultry.
However, USDA officials say that they already have identified and corrected many of the problems listed by the GAO report.
According to the AP, the GAO report said that, among other things, federal inspectors failed to “consistently identify and document repeated failures of plants to find contamination hazards.”
While consumer advocates call for tougher regulation and enforcement, industry experts say that the incidence of tainted meat and poultry actually is declining.
- Published reports say that the National Research Council (NRC) recent review of farm security suggests that the US is highly vulnerable to bioterriorist attacks aimed at the nation’s farms.
The panel called for both improved communication among government intelligence agencies, universities and farm groups, as well as inspection, diagnosis, and response procedures.
The Associated Press reports that while the report from the NRC had been commissioned by the USDA, Agriculture department officials sought to suppress it because of concerns that it would give terrorists ideas.
- KC's View:
Lots of acronyms here. AP. GAO. NRC. USDA.
But it sounds to us like maybe the USDA is trying to engage in a little “CYA.”
Certainly, recent news reports suggest that we are vulnerable in ways we cannot even imagine…and were vulnerable even when there were expectations about possible terrorist attacks.
One of the experts quoted in the bioterrorism stories suggested that “it is not a question of ‘if.’ It is a question of when.”
If that’s true, the industry had better be prepared to deal with a populace that will be skittish at best, and panic-driven at worst.