Significant progress has been made in pathogen reduction, thanks to such public-private initiatives as Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) programs, she stated.
Under HACCP, processing plants develop plans to prevent hazards and reduce pathogens, and USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) tests for Salmonella in order to verify that these food-safety systems are effective in controlling contamination of raw meat and poultry products. All told, HACCP has been implemented in 6,700 federally-inspected and 2,500 state-inspected meat and poultry plants nationwide, and meat and poultry imports, too, must be produced under a HACCP-based, equivalent system.
"Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about HACCP is its ability to evolve to address today's issues and prevent tomorrow's problems," Veneman commented. "No system of regulations or inspections can remain effective forever. Emerging pathogens alone ensure that. This means that HACCP and all of USDA's efforts to protect the food supply must be constantly reassessed and updated where necessary.
"Already, our partners in industry who put forth a phenomenal effort to make HACCP a success are looking at ways to improve the system even further."
Underscoring these remarks, Veneman released new data showing that the prevalence of Salmonella in raw meat and poultry has declined since industry implementation of HACCP monitoring systems in 1998.