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USDA Proposes 'Test and Hold' Procedure to Boost Meat Safety

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Health Issues page, and our Food Safety page.

In a statement released Tuesday, the department's Food Safety and Inspection Service said that it inspects "billions of pounds of meat, poultry and processed egg products annually" and it believes that 44 of the most serious food recalls from 2007 to 2009 could have been prevented it the agency had had a 'test and hold' procedure in place during that time.

Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen said: "We believe this will result in fewer products with dangerous pathogens reaching store shelves and dinner tables. In addition, by testing and holding at US points-of-entry, FSIS will also strengthen safety efforts focused on imported food - offering an additional safeguard to American consumers."

Most major meat processors already hold back products while government inspectors complete tests for foodborne pathogens, a process that can take 24 to 48 hours.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said: "While many establishments have similar policies already in place, this proposed requirement will allow government to provide an additional safeguard to ensure food safety."