July 16, 2018

Food & Water Watch Concerned About Contaminated Meat from Australia

Food & Water Watch has issued a statement saying that six months after they sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack about how the Australian Export Meat Inspection System (AEMIS) led to an increase in import rejections of unsafe Australian meat, the problems have not improved. A new letter has been sent about this matter.

Beef RoastWenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch said in a statement, “we’re calling on Secretary Vilsack to start the process to revoke the equivalency status of Australia’s privatized inspection system. The latest import rejections for visible fecal and ingesta contamination point to a failed system. USDA recognized this privatized inspection model in 2011 in its haste to backdoor a privatized inspection system here in the United STates. What the Australian experience has shown is that turning over meat inspection to the companies to police themselves does not work.” Feces and ingesta are sources of pathogenic bacterial contamination that can make you sick.

There has been an increase in the number of import rejections at U.S. ports-of-entry since the implementation of Australia’s privatized inspection system. Unfortunately, the Australian system is patterned after the HACCP-based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) being piloted in hog slaughter plants in the U.S. Since 2006, FSIS has given equivalency status to foreign beef, mutton, and goat slaughter inspection systems based on the HIMP pilot project, which food safety experts have criticized as being ineffective. In addition, FSIS has not conducted a final review of the HIMP project.

According to Food & Water Watch, FSIS has been basing the equivalency determinations on a “flawed inspection model that renders those determinations flawed as well, leaving U.S. consumers vulnerable to unsafe imported meat products.” The European Union is also expressing concern over Australian meat imports operating under AEMIS and may insist on third party audits of meat imports from Australia.

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