NEWS SCAN: State food outbreak probes, USDA food safety proposals

Mar 25, 2010

Consumer group finds states vary in food outbreak investigation capacity
An analysis by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CPSI) of 2007 food outbreak reporting data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that states vary widely in their outbreak surveillance, investigation, and reporting, CSPI said yesterday in a press release. The 2007 CDC information that the consumer advocacy group used was the most recent data available and represented a year when several high-profile foodborne illness outbreaks occurred. CSPI looked at outbreaks per million people reported in two states known for strong foodborne illness investigation systems, Minnesota and Oregon. Each reported 10 outbreaks per million people. Seven states were above that baseline: Maine, Kansas, Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska, Hawaii, and North Dakota. However, 12 states reported just one outbreak per million, and 11 states had only slightly more. Caroline Smith DeWaal, CPSI's food safety director, said some states may not have enough investigators or money to train and supply their staff, factors that can lead to lower-quality investigations and lower reporting rates.
Mar 24 CSPI press release

USDA seeks comments on proposed food safety rules
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) today said it is seeking comments on proposed requirements for meat and poultry processing plants to more quickly report and recall contaminated products. The rules would implement a provision of the 2008 Farm Bill and support the July 2009 recommendations of President Barack Obama's Food Safety Working Group, the USDA said in a press release. The rules would require USDA-regulated establishments to (1) promptly notify the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service when unsafe products have entered commerce, (2) prepare and maintain product recall procedures, and (3) document any reassessments of their Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans. The regulations will affect about 6,300 establishments, and the USDA estimates the collective cost to those facilities at $5 million the first year and $700,000 in subsequent years, according to a Federal Register notice. The agency will accept comments until May 24.
Mar 25 USDA news release
USDA Federal Register notice

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