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ID NEWS: AMI refutes media reports on HACCP failures

The American Meat Institute (AMI), Washington, DC, has taken exception to media reports concerning the failure of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems at many meat processing facilities. The reports, extrapolated from a February 4 news conference, indicated that 60 percent of 35 major plants failed to meet federal requirements for prevention of E. coli contamination.

"Based on our knowledge of the facts, some news media have mischaracterized comments made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture last week, regarding reviews of HACCP plans in large beef plants," comments J. Patrick Boyle, AMI president. "USDA officials indicated that their reviews showed that HACCP plans in some plants had 'scientific and design issues and not direct food safety issues.'"

To date, USDA has reviewed HACCP plans in 35 of 130 large beef plants, according to Boyle. In 21 of the total 130 plants ultimately to be reviewed, "design flaws" were identified. A clarifying statement issued by USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) subsequent to the conference says the plants in question have responded to FSIS in writing, in keeping with regulatory requirements.

Boyle further notes that there are no benefits to taking food safety "shortcuts" in HACCP plans. "To the contrary, we benefit by having the best possible HACCP plans, and that is what beef companies have tried to prepare."

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