October 16, 2021

Gillibrand Introduces Meat and Poultry Safety Bill

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has introduced the Safe Meat and Poultry Act which aims to strengthen the country’s meat and poultry inspection system and reduce the number of foodborne illness outbreaks. Gillibrand, who is chairwoman of the Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, Poultry, Marketing and Agriculture Security, said the financial and public health toll these outbreaks have has been exacerbated by the fact that food safety legislation affecting the U.S. Department of Agriculture has not been upgraded in more than a century.

Chicken CarcassesOne in six Americans are sickened by food poisoning each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The public health and economic cost of these illnesses is over $14 billion each year, according to the Emerging Pathogens Institute at the University of Florida.  The meat and poultry industries lose an additional $500 million each year on recalled products.

“As I cook dinner for my family most nights, I want to know what I am serving is safe for my children to eat,” Sen. Gillibrand said in a statement. “This legislation contains practical measures to ensure no American gambles with their health when purchasing poultry or meat product. Not only would we reduce foodborne illness, but we also strengthen our nation’s agriculture and food industry.”

The Safe Meat and Poultry Act would: create mandatory pathogen reduction performance standards, improve consumer notification when contaminated products are recalled,  provide whistleblower protection, enforce criminal penalties for intentionally putting unsafe products in the marketplace, establish regular international audits by the Food Safety & Inspection Service and increase the emphasis on prevention such as reducing contamination from pathogens and chemical residues, and potential contamination, according to Gillibrand. She  introduced the bille after a Government Accountable Office (GAO) published report found that the Food Safety and Inspection Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) was expanding a pilot poultry project without proper data collection and evaluation.




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