CSPI Issues 'Riskiest Meats' Report

A new report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) that called ground beef and chicken the “riskiest meat and poultry products in the American food supply,” and asserted that they posed “the greatest likelihood of hospitalization” for consumers, has prompted the American Meat Institute (AMI) Foundation to counter that such items are indeed safe to eat.

CSPI’s report, “Risky Meat: A Field Guide to Meat & Poultry Safety," ranks 12 categories of meat and poultry based on outbreak reports and the likelihood of hospitalizations associated with the pathogens most commonly reported in those foods.

“U.S. meat and poultry companies produce 90 billion pounds of meat and poultry products a year, and 99.99 percent of these are consumed safely,” responded James H. Hodges, president of the Washington, D.C.-based foundation.

Noting that the CSPI report focused only on meat and poultry, Hodges observed that a "broader examination of the total food supply could have delivered a more meaningful examination of food safety risk from our normal diets and would have shown that we have a meat and poultry supply that delivers consistently safe eating experiences."

Hodges added that a broader look at the food supply undertaken by CSPI in an outbreak analysis last month revealed substantial declines in foodborne outbreaks related to E. coli, Salmonella and other pathogens of more than 40 percent, which the consumer advocacy group opined could be because of “better food safety practices, notably the adoption of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) programs in the meat, poultry, and seafood industries.”

In fact, CSPI acknowledged in its analysis last month that seafood, poultry and beef experienced the steepest declines in the number of reported outbreaks in the period under review, Hodges pointed out.

“We do agree with CSPI’s perspective that better food attribution data is needed to understand the causes of foodborne illnesses and potential strategies for improvement,” Hodges said, adding, “Consumers should continue to enjoy the meat and poultry products they normally choose and should continue to follow the safe handling instructions provided on all packages.”

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