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Meat and Poultry Inspection 2.0

How the United States can learn from the practices and innovations in other countries

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that illnesses from contaminated food sicken 48 million Americans each year, resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths For the almost 9.4 million illnesses caused by known agents, outbreak data suggest that at least 22 percent of these illnesses (over 2 million cases) are associated with meat and poultry consumption. In addition, the cost of foodborne diseases associated with these products has been estimated to be almost $7 billion each year. 

The safety of meat and poultry is regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture. USDA inspectors are required by law to be present at all times during slaughter and to visit, on a daily basis, every meat and poultry processing plant engaged in interstate commerce in the United States. However, traditional slaughter inspection methods, which are based upon a system that is more than 100 years old, are not designed to detect most of the current microbial and chemical contaminants of public health importance.

In Meat and Poultry Inspection 2.0, The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) examine the efforts and approaches undertaken by other countries as well as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to modernize meat inspection. This review is intended to identify innovations that could offer improved protections for U.S. consumers.