How is our food supply kept safe?
There are numerous programs in place that effectively safeguard the United States food supply. Most of these programs are under the direction of the federal government. All raw meat products processed and sold in the United States are inspected by the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), which is a branch of the United States Department of Agriculture. Some states, however, have a state-run inspection system. Meat inspected by state organizations cannot be sold across state lines. Processors that produce raw meat for strictly private consumption can be exempt from inspection (an example would be a deer or other game processor). This meat can never be sold.
The FSIS inspection program is comprehensive. It starts when the animals arrive at the processing facility where inspectors look for any animals showing signs of sickness and make sure that the animals are handled humanely. Inspectors will also be throughout the facility to ensure that all precautions are taken to prevent the meat from becoming contaminated with bacteria during processing. The FSIS also tests finished meat products to make sure that they are free of chemical contaminants and are labeled properly. Failure to meet FSIS standards can result in fines and suspension of all processing. If there is a case where contaminated meat products are sold, FSIS then has the authority to order a recall, which can be extremely costly for the meat processor.
For more information on meat safety and inspection, visit www.purduefaen.com
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