USDA Promotes Consumer Protection

In the wake of a year of foodborne illness outbreaks and contagious disease worries, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is promoting new prevention-based consumer protection policies.

Last year was an especially bad year for food safety standards. In addition to the standard outbreaks of raw milk contamination, American consumers were hit with the deadliest foodborne illness outbreak in recent memory in the form of listeria-tainted cantaloupe from a Colorado melon farm. The tainted fruit killed dozens of people nationwide and sickened hundreds more, damaging consumer faith and hurting fruit farmers across the country.

More recently, news of the first case of mad cow disease since 2006 rocked confidence in American beef products. The recent discovery of mad cow in a California beef farm has prompted investigations by the USDA as well as investigation from international beef importers.

As a way to strengthen consumer confidence in American agricultural products, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is announcing a series of new policy measures designed to strengthen the nation’s food safety infrastructure. Most importantly, the FSIS will implement new traceback measures, including mandating a more aggressive response to routine sampling programs. In addition, the FSIS will require a more stringent compliance with food safety notification on the part of manufacturers.

“Together, these measures will provide us with more tools to protect our food supply, resulting in stronger public health protections for consumers,” said Under Secretary for Food Safety Elisabeth Hagen.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer