USDA’s 2012 Agricultural Outlook Forum, Feb. 23-24, will present 25 breakout sessions, including “Preventing Disease From Crossing the Border: SPS Initiatives for Global Food Security” and “Fighting Foodborne Illness.” While the first session will focus on the contribution of animal health to global food security, I’ll be moderating the second session that looks at Salmonella and the most recent progress made in fighting its threat to public health.
Since a coordinated response to outbreaks is a vital component of protecting American animal agriculture, the “Preventing Disease From Crossing the Border” session includes cooperative perspectives. Dr. Jose Diez, Associate Deputy Administrator of USDA’s Veterinary Services Emergency Management and Diagnostics Service will address “Global Emergency Response.” Dr. Mo Salman, Colorado State University, will discuss “Enhancing International Capacity to Meet SPS Standards;” and Former Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Agriculture, Jason Hafemeister, addresses “SPS Issues and Free Trade Agreements.”
In “Fighting Foodborne Illness,” the most recent research perspective on Salmonella will be explored by Dayna Harhay, Research Microbiologist of Meat Safety and Quality Research with USDA’s U.S. Meat Animal Research Center. Addressing the academic perspective will be Guy Loneragan, Professor of Epidemiology and Animal Health at Texas Tech University. Dane Bernard, Vice President of Food Safety and Quality, Keystone Foods LLC, will present the industry perspective.
Over the past two years, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has made significant strides in safeguarding the food supply, preventing foodborne illness, and providing consumers with clear information about the foods they purchase. These initiatives support three core principles developed by the President’s Food Safety Working Group: prioritizing prevention, strengthening surveillance and enforcement, and improving response and recovery.
FSIS expects that the stricter performance standards for Salmonella and Campylobacter in poultry that were implemented earlier this year will prevent as many as 25,000 foodborne illnesses annually. Also, a new test and hold policy will significantly reduce consumer exposure to unsafe meat products, because products are prohibited from being released into commerce until test results for dangerous contaminants are known.
The impact of these measures on food safety are enhanced by the Public Health Information System, a modernized, comprehensive database connecting public health trends and food safety violations at the nearly 6,100 plants FSIS regulates.
In addition to the regulatory initiatives, FSIS, along with FDA and CDC, teamed up with the Ad Council to produce Food Safe Families, a consumer education campaign to empower families to further reduce their risk of foodborne illness at home by checking their key food safety steps: clean, separate, cook, and chill. This campaign uses a series of television and radio spots, as well as social media, to encourage people to take these four simple steps to protect their families.
We believe more can be done, and I look forward to learning how academics, scientists and industry leaders envision the future of food safety, and combating Salmonella in particular. Click here for more information and to register for the forum.