Food Safety Requires Public-Private Partnership

Industry pledges to work with government to improve food safety practices.

The National Pork Producers Council told a Congressional panel Thursday that to be effective, the nation’s food-safety system must have adequate funding and personnel, food-safety policies and procedures based on sound science and a partnership between federal food-safety agencies and food producers.

Jill Appell, a pork producer from Altona, Ill. and past NPPC president, pledged that the U.S. pork industry will continue to adopt and adapt practices and programs that improve the safety of our nation’s food supply. But America’s food producers need the federal government to be a partner in this effort.

Appell noted that, for the most part, federal food-safety agencies, particularly the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service, do a good job. But there is room for improvement. Among her recommendations, Appell urged lawmakers to: establish food safety objectives linked to public health outcomes rather than arbitrary targets; and improve communication about food safety issues among state and federal public health officials and the food industry.

Also testifying before the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry was J. Patrick Boyle, the CEO of the American Meat Institute. Boyle told the Subcommittee that Centers for Disease Control data shows that illnesses from pathogens most commonly associated with meat and poultry comprise a fraction of the total foodborne illnesses and deaths in the U.S.

"It is indisputable that producing safe food is good for customers and good for business," Boyle said. "To that end, the meat and poultry industry has been working to meet the challenge of continuously improving the safety of the products produced. Industry pledges to cooperate with all parties to ensure that the U.S. maintains the safest meat and poultry supply in the world."

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