GAO Report: USDA/FSIS Should Update Some of Its Food Safety Standards

By Riëtte van Laack — In 2015, Senators D. Feinstein, R. Durbin and K. Gillibrand asked GAO to investigate the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) pathogen standards for meat and poultry products and identify any steps that FSIS could make to address food safety. On April 18, 2018, GAO published its report of the two year investigation, Food Safety: USDA Should Take Further Action to Reduce Pathogens in Meat and Poultry Products. Though the U.S. food supply is considered safe, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that foodborne pathogens cause about 9 million illnesses each year. Two million of the illnesses are associated with Salmonella and Campylobacter. GAO recognized that FSIS has taken a number of actions to address food safety, but concluded that it can do some things better. Among other things, FSIS has established performance standards for Salmonella and Campylobacter for some…

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