I have spent 20 years in the food industry in the USDA inspected plants and now in FDA inspected plants so I think I have some first hand knowledge about how this may very well play out. I can see both good and bad to come out of this but can also say that USDA is treading on thin ice on this. First, let's start out by saying that facilities in different districts are held to different standards and I know this first hand because I used to manage regulatory for a company that had 10 plants across the U.S. Heck, I've even had different EIAO's (Enforcement Investigation Analysis Officers) have totally different views within the same district. So, the information may be a bit misleading in truth. There may be plants with good numbers who in truth do not have such great practices and plants who do not look good but actually are very good but just have tougher reviews by USDA in that Region. So, what happens when there is an outbreak and it is from a plant with really good marks in this system? You and I both know this is going to happen. The media will have a field day with USDA. It is no different than when the Peanut Corporation had good 3rd party audits and the media tore into that auditing firm. I understand that the general public wants to be informed but how many people will actually go out and look this information up? Heck, how many people will actually know how to go look this information up and know how to read the packaging information to know what location it came from? What about educating the public you say? Well, we have not even been able to educate the public on home food safety so what makes us think we can do a better job of educating them on this activity. I think there may be a handful of people, mainly special interest groups and reporters that will get more value out of this. I also think USDA is thinking this takes some of the lime light off of them but I actually think it will do the reverse in the end. I think they will catch a lot more heat now that the information is public. These are just my thoughts on this matter.
USDA to publish plant-specific food safety data
July 11, 2016 - by Erica Shaffer
Search for similar articles by keyword: [USDA report], [Food Safety], [USDA]WASHINGTON – The US Dept. of Agriculture announced plans to publish detailed food safety data that is specific to slaughter and processing facilities. The new datasets will appear on Data.gov on a quarterly basis 90 days after publication in the Federal Register.
The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) initially will share information on processes used at each facility, providing more detail than is currently listed in the searchable establishment directory. FSIS also will provide a code for each facility that will make it easier to sort and combine future datasets by facility. Additionally, FSIS will release results for Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) and Salmonella in ready-to-eat (RTE) products and processed egg products.
Other datasets FSIS will make public include results for E. coli (STEC) and Salmonella in raw, non-intact beef products; results for Salmonella and Campylobacter in young chickens and young turkeys, comminuted poultry and chicken parts; routine chemical residue testing data in meat and poultry; and advance meat recovery testing data.
Some outcomes FSIS expects to come from sharing food safety data include allowing consumers to make informed choices about the meat and poultry products they buy while motivating individual processors to improve their food-safety performance, thus facilitating industry-wide performance through improved insights into the strengths and weaknesses of different practices.
“FSIS’ food safety inspectors collect vast amounts of data at food producing facilities every day, which we analyze on an ongoing basis to detect emerging public health risks and create better policies to prevent foodborne illness,” USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Al Almanza said in a statement. “Consumers want more information about the foods they are purchasing, and sharing these details can give them better insight into food production and inspection, and help them make informed purchasing decisions.”
Details of FSIS’s framework for releasing the data are available in the agency’s Establishment-Specific Data Release Plan.