Posted by: cindydyer | September 30, 2009

Food Safety: E coli and Salmonella Outbreaks

As a Food Safety Educator, I have been asking myself why doesn’t the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) talk to each other electronically about the ever increasing food pathogen outbreaks? The idea is to get ahead of E. coli and Salmonella illnesses before they cause massive outbreaks across the country. I am pleased that the White House announced on Wednesday (week of July 13) that they are moving ahead to establish some immediate guidelines.

The North American Meat Processors Association (NAMP) is encouraging every beef processor to attend the E. coli Conference on August 18-19 near Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. Dr. Ken Petersen and Dr. Dan Engeljohn of the USDA will explain how new White House actions will impact operations.

E. coli 0157:H7

Food Safety Information System (FSIS)
By the end of July, FSIS will Issue improved instructions to its workforce on how to verify that establishments handling beef are acting to reduce the presence of E. coli.

FSIS will also increase samplings to find the pathogen, focusing mostly on the components that go into making ground beef.

Salmonella
By end of year, FSIS will develop new standards to reduce the prevalence of Salmonella in turkeys and poultry. The agency will also establish a Salmonella verification program with a goal of having 90 percent of poultry establishments meeting the new standards by the end of 2010.

National Traceback and Response System
Within three months, FDA will issue draft guidance on steps the food industry can take to establish product tracing systems to improve the national capacity for detecting the origins of foodborne illness.

A Unified Incident Command System will be put in place within three months.

Within six to 12 months, FSIS will improve collaboration with states by increasing the capacity of its successful public health epidemiology liaison program to state public health departments.

The federal government will enhance www.foodsafety.gov to better communicate information to the public and include an improved individual alert system allowing consumers to receive food safety information, such as notification of recalls.

We are pleased that the White House is taking these steps to improve methods to keep the public informed about foodborne contamination and outbreaks.

Source: North American Meat Processors Association Newsletter, 13 July 2009

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