Senator Feinstein Calls on USDA to Complete Regulations to Give Consumers A List of Establishments that Sold Tainted Meat During a Recall
Mar 28 2008
Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to promptly issue regulations to give consumers a list of establishments that sold tainted meat during a recall. Current USDA policy does not allow consumers access to this information.
A similar disclosure requirement was included in legislation introduced earlier this month by Senator Feinstein to improve food safety at slaughterhouses. This will help distributors, retailers and consumers to better identify and more quickly get recalled meat products off their shelves and out of their homes.
The Feinstein bill, which is co-sponsored by Senators Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), will give the USDA additional authority to apply a tough penalty system on facilities that violate the law when it comes to handling non-ambulatory animals, including stiff fines for first time offenders and temporary or permanent facility shutdowns for repeat violators.
Following is the letter sent today by Senator Feinstein to USDA Secretary Ed Schafer:
March 28, 2008
The Honorable Ed Schafer
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, DC 20250
Dear Mr. Schafer:
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has informed Congress that current regulations forbid it from disclosing a list of more than 10,000 establishments that sold meat that was subject to a national voluntary recall. As a result, millions of Americans are unable to determine whether meat they purchased was part of the 143 million pounds of beef recalled from the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company. I request that you move expeditiously to approve proposed regulations that would allow consumers to have this vital information.
On March 13, I introduced bipartisan legislation that directs USDA to promulgate regulations that “provide for public disclosure of a comprehensive list of establishments at which recalled meat or poultry is known to be available to the public for consumption or sale.” This is necessary because regulations proposed in the Federal Register to accomplish this important goal on March 7, 2006, still have not been finalized, and I understand that the Office of Management and Budget has not yet approved them. The bill gives the Secretary of Agriculture 60 days to finalize these regulations.
A meat recall is less effective if consumers lack the means to determine whether their local grocery store or high school cafeteria sold them recalled meat. Consumers have the right to know the risks they face. They should be able to easily determine whether the meat in their refrigerator has been recalled.
I ask you to work to issue these rules before we have another meat recall. I look forward to working with you to protect consumers from threats to the safety of their food.
United States Senator