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 »
Last week, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service posted on the agency’s web site copies of recent letters that were sent to plants facing enforcement actions for inhumanely treating animals. Posting these humane handling enforcement letters on the web enhances the transparency component of this process and provides the public a clearer understanding of the types of behavior and conditions that warrant enforcement action by FSIS. This effort is part of a commitment made last year by FSIS to implement new measures to ensure the humane treatment of animals at establishments we regulate.
These letters can be accessed in the agency’s online FOIA reading room and are categorized according to each plant’s designated establishment number, which can be found inside the USDA mark of inspection on food packages at the grocery store. When inhumane handling conditions are encountered, FSIS personnel continue to take action until plant management resolves the problem, often through employee training and facility improvements. Any follow-up correspondence sent to plants also can be accessed in the online FOIA reading room. Read more »
Turkey label example.
March is National Nutrition Month, and the Food Safety and Inspection Service is improving the way consumers receive nutritional information about the meat and poultry products they most frequently purchase. Beginning today, ground or chopped meat and poultry products, such as ground turkey and hamburger, will be required to have nutrition facts panels on their packages, just like the ones seen on most other foods at the grocery store. For other popular cuts of raw meat and poultry, including chicken wings and pork tenderloin, that same nutrition information may appear on package labels or on easily accessible materials near the meat counter. Read more »
The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is making significant changes this year to strengthen humane handling enforcement-making it a more objective, and less subjective, measure.
As a public health agency, FSIS is responsible for ensuring that America’s supply of meat and poultry products are produced both safely and humanely. USDA takes that responsibility seriously and is deeply committed to the humane handling of livestock as we strive to improve food safety efforts. Read more »
Dr. Elisabeth Hagen is sworn in to her new position as Under Secretary for Food Safety. Pearlie S. Reed, Assistant Secretary for Administration, swears her in as her husband, Dr. Daniel Gabbay, holds the Bible.
Secretary Tom Vilsack’s sunny office overlooking the National Mall set the perfect background this morning for Elisabeth Hagen’s first moments as USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety.
While her husband, Dr. Daniel Gabbay, proudly held the Bible on which she was sworn in, Dr. Elisabeth Hagen was excitedly welcomed to her new position. Because Secretary Vilsack was traveling, Assistant Secretary Pearlie Reed administered the oath before an excited group of USDA staff. Read more »