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USDA to Present New Steps to Prevent Food Tampering

WASHINGTON - Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman is expected today to urge U.S. meat, poultry and egg plants to seal shipments and take other steps to protect the nation's food supply from deliberate contamination, Reuters reports.

The department has prepared six pages of food safety guidelines telling plants how they should manage their security, production, workers, transportation and storage. Although the guidelines will likely be given to all the department's meat inspectors, they are not mandatory, according to Reuters.

USDA said Veneman will also detail how the agency plans to use the $328 million recently appropriated by Congress to improve food and farm safety.

The USDA guidelines urged food companies to:

-- Seal all outgoing food shipments with tamper-proof, numbered seals that are included on the shipping documents.

-- Create a food security management team and coordinator for each plant or company.

-- Develop a plan for notifying the police of threats, responding to actual product tampering and evacuating a facility if necessary.

-- Conduct food security drills periodically.

-- Adopt procedures to trace the source of all raw materials, and to trace the delivery points of all finished products.

-- Use guards, alarms, cameras or other security hardware on doors, windows, roof openings, railcars, bulk storage tanks and trailers.

-- Maintain a current list of plant workers with access to the building.

-- Control entry to a plant by requiring photo IDs and sign-in procedures.

-- Prepare a daily inventory of hazardous chemicals at the plant and investigate any missing items immediately.

In other news, Secretary Veneman on Wednesday ruled out allowing meat to be labeled as grown in North America if it is produced in Canada, Mexico or the United States, according to Reuters.
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