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ID NEWS: USDA's tracking of meat import safety found lax

Because of paperwork issues, USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) says it was impossible to provide auditors with records of origin of some 823,632 pounds of meat imports between 1999 and 2001, creating a potentially unsafe situation.

The USDA inspector general's internal audit, released last week, says that--of the meat in question--66,299 pounds were from processors unapproved for shipping. Auditors were uncertain as to whether the rest of the meat was safe and came from approved exporters, as USDA did not turn in enough records to make the determination. FSIS Administrator Garry McKee said that it was impossible to give the auditors records of origin of those imports, because FSIS does not keep paperwork further back than the past two years.

In addition, auditors found that USDA has not yet implemented a recommendation of a June 2000 audit, to create a system to track food safety compliance of other countries on an annual basis.

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