AMI President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle expressed concern over the proposed Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 that is scheduled for markup by this week, and requested, in a letter to House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman and Ranking Member Joe Barton, further review and discussion before proceeding with the legislation.

“The meat and poultry industry is intensely regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and inspected establishments are subject to daily scrutiny, often using multiple inspectors,” Boyle said. “Although sections of the bill may be viewed by some as necessary and appropriate for FDA-regulated products, those same or similar provisions, if applied to the meat and poultry inspection system, would be a step backward. To this end, AMI is troubled by the potential precedents the bill could set for products regulated by the USDA.”

A significant concern with the bill, Boyle noted, is the control government would have over a company’s HACCP program. The proper role of government is to verify that companies have conducted a proper hazard analysis, identified the hazards reasonably likely to occur in their operations and develop and implement an appropriate HACCP plan to control those hazards.

“We do not believe it is the proper role of the government to establish the hazards and mandate preventive controls,” Boyle said.

Other sections of the bill Boyle suggested warrant further review include: user fees to pay for food safety inspection services; the ‘full pedigree’ traceability required by the bill; the empowerment of FDA to mandate a recall and impose civil penalties; and the changes the bill would make to policies with respect to how FDA determines whether a substance is generally recognized as safe.

To learn more about this issue, link to the American Meat Institute.