Over the last few decades, food safety has been marked by profound social, economic and political evolutions and technological breakthroughs such as 3D printing of food and the adoption of laboratory testing for pathogens. Laboratory testing for pathogens continues to evolve with the advancement of genome sequencing. However, there is always more to do. There is a potential for advancing existing and promoting greater gains in the future.
What if there were more apps that could allow farmers, producers, consumers and stakeholders access to USDA data? The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) posts a variety of reports using data collected while inspecting and testing meat and poultry products, but more and more, people want direct access to the information. For instance, what if a consumer could walk into a grocery store, scan a product, and instantly know where it was produced or where it was farmed? What if a farmer had an app that directly informed them about crop forecasting or crop variations? What if people and organizations who would never have had the opportunity before could individually and collectively mash up data in unique and exciting ways, leading to new opportunities to solve complex problems? The potential is endless as more tools are becoming available. Read more »
The recent multistate outbreak of Salmonella has served as yet another reminder of the importance of a modern, effective food safety system in the United States. That’s why USDA has undertaken a comprehensive effort to modernize poultry slaughter inspection in ways that will reduce the risk for American families.
A recent story in the Washington Post shared claims by some that this new effort would compromise humane handling. The fact is, this proposal will better position our inspectors to ensure humane handling standards are being met – all while protecting American families from illness caused by Salmonella and Campylobacter. Read more »
Today, I am in Athens, Georgia, visiting the University of Georgia (UGA) and meeting with university leaders, faculty, and students to learn about the great work being done here to advance agriculture and solve some of our most pressing challenges.
NIFA has a long history of investing in agricultural science, and for much of the research it takes years to see the payoff. I’d like to highlight two projects at the University of Georgia NIFA has funded that are seeing real outcomes today. Read more »
Cross posted from Food Safety News:
My passion for public health stems from my career as an infectious disease doctor, watching families cope with the heartbreak caused by preventable diseases, including foodborne illness. I know what it feels like to explain to a husband in shock that the reason his wife is on life support is because of something she ate that was contaminated with a deadly pathogen.
Now, I am the Under Secretary for Food Safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In my current role, I oversee dedicated USDA inspectors, scientists, veterinarians, and numerous other personnel who protect food that we eat every day. There is nothing more fundamental than being able to feed your own family a meal that will not make you sick, or worse, put you in the hospital.
I understand that there has been a lot of confusion about a proposal by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to modernize inspection at poultry slaughter plants.
I would like to try to eliminate that confusion. Read more »
Secretary Vilsack believes there is no more fundamental function of government than protecting consumers, and there is no mission more important to USDA than ensuring the safety of our food. Prevention is our single greatest priority here, so this week the Department announced new performance standards aimed at reducing the occurrence of Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria in chickens and turkeys. Within two years of implementing these standards, approximately 5,000 cases of Campylobacter illnesses and 20,000 cases of Salmonella illnesses will be prevented annually.
While the poultry industry has made significant strides in recent years, far too many Americans continue to fall victim to these foodborne illnesses – FSIS estimates nearly 350,000 from Salmonella and Campylobacter in poultry annually, combined. These improved standards will drive the industry to do better. They are tough but achievable. And when fully implemented, they can help us lower the danger of foodborne illness.