WASHINGTON – Todd Allen, vice chairman of beef industry’s beef safety committee and past president of the Kansas Livestock Association, an affiliate of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), said the beef industry is committed to producing, delivering and serving safe, wholesome and healthful beef products to consumers in the United States and abroad. He said the U.S. beef cattle industry is steadfast in its efforts to prevent foodborne illness from its product and supports research to close knowledge gaps surrounding non-O157 shiga toxin-producing E. coli (non-O157 STECs).
Earlier today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the agency will release a policy document declaring six additional strains of non-O157 STECs, including O26, O45, O103, O111, O121 and O145, as adulterants. The agency announced it will require the industry to begin testing beef trim for these six non-O157 STEC strains on March 5, 2012.
“As a cattleman but also as a father and grandfather, my priority is to raise healthy cattle that produce safe beef products to be served on my dinner table and on dinner tables worldwide. That includes preventing foodborne illness and eliminating pathogens that may affect public health,” said Allen. “All policy and regulatory decisions must be based on the latest knowledge, sound science and proper risk assessment. There is still research that needs to be conducted to fully understand and close knowledge gaps related to non-O157 STECs.”
According to USDA, the proposed rule will be open for public comment for 60 days. Allen said NCBA will carefully analyze the non-O157 document and provide comments on behalf of the U.S. beef cattle industry.
“It is important for USDA to listen to the concerns of cattlemen and answer our questions as it moves forward with this policy document and all regulatory measures that affect our industry. NCBA will analyze the document and provide science-based comments to USDA,” Allen said. “The beef industry takes its role in beef safety very seriously. That is why the U.S. beef industry invests approximately $550 million annually in beef safety research and technology implementation. As an industry, we will continue doing all we can to raise healthy cattle and provide consumers with safe, wholesome beef.”