For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Contact: 

Seth Gladstone – sgladstone@fwwatch.org

USDA Audit Finds USDA Testing for E.Coli Insufficient

Finding Confirms FWW Criticism of Testing Program

WASHINGTON - “Today, USDA Inspector General Phyllis Fong confirmed the suspicions expressed by Food & Water Watch over the past several years concerning the statistical validity of the E. coli 0157:H7 sampling program used by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

“In testimony before the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, General Fong announced that her office has concluded its audit of the sampling program for beef trim – a component of ground beef products – and it found that the sampling method ‘does not yield a statistical precision that is reasonable for food safety.’ The Office of Inspector General went on to say that USDA needed to redesign its sampling methodology so that it was on sounder statistical ground.

“We applaud Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro for requesting the audit be done and the efforts of the USDA Office of Inspector General for its valuable work on this issue.

“We urge FSIS to work quickly to develop a comprehensive sampling and testing program for E. coli that will make food safer for consumers. Additionally, FSIS should:

Work to identify and remove all products produced during the same production shift as contaminated product through traceback and traceforward investigations of the entire production chain.

Adopt measures to capture information about the suppliers for all positive test results, including industry-sampling programs. FSIS should conduct follow-up investigations and, when necessary, increase scrutiny at supplying slaughter plants.

Identify research necessary to substantiate sampling theories it believes would improve its ability to protect public health.”

A copy of General Fong’s statement can be found here: http://www.usda.gov/oig/webdocs/IGtestimony110302.pdf

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