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USDA Proposes Making Recall Information Public

CSPI Says Move Would Help Consumers Avoid Tainted Food

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regulation proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service would help consumers avoid contaminated meat or poultry in the event of a recall, according to the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). Under the draft regulation, USDA would post on its web site the names of grocery stores and restaurants that received shipments of tainted meat and poultry products. USDA’s current practice is to keep that information secret and to forbid individual states from disclosing it on their own.

“Consumers have a right to know whether the meat or poultry they’ve purchased is being recalled due to contamination with deadly bacteria,” said CSPI food safety staff attorney Ken Kelly. “By not naming the names of individual retailers, USDA had been making it difficult for consumers to avoid tainted food. This is a welcome, if overdue, change.”

In 2004, CSPI launched a campaign to encourage USDA to disclose the names of stores and restaurants that receive tainted meat and poultry. CSPI says that even though the new proposal is a good first step, USDA still needs the legal authority to require companies to recall tainted foods. Currently, the agency has to rely on the meat industry’s voluntary compliance with recall requests from USDA.

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Contact Jeff Cronin (jcronin[at]cspinet.org) or Ariana Stone (astone[at]cspinet.org).