Archive for April, 2009

Chicken Industry Committed to Food Safety, Industry Expert Tells Congress

April 23, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Thursday, April 23, 2009

The chicken industry is strongly committed to food safety and has continued to improve its performance, especially in reducing the presence of potentially harmful microorganisms on raw product, an industry expert told Congress Thursday.

The number of processing plants in the very best category of performance continues to increase, Dr. Elizabeth Krushinskie, speaking for the National Chicken Council, told a subcommittee of the House Committee on Agriculture. She said the steady improvement is demonstrated by data published by the Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture under its food safety program known as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP).

The key to success, she said, has been the industry’s commitment to food safety.

“The poultry industry has done a very good job at producing safe, wholesome, high quality foods,” Dr. Krushinskie said. “The industry is continually developing new interventions and related technologies, and refining its food safety systems, to enhance food safety. FSIS mandates HACCP plans and verifies compliance with the plans, but it is the plants that conduct hazard analyses and adopt and implement controls to address potential food safety hazards,” she noted.

“In reviews of the effectiveness of HACCP and the performance standards, FSIS has reported that nearly all broiler plants are complying with the Salmonella performance standards and that Salmonella prevalence in most product categories is lower since HACCP implementation than in baseline studies conducted before implementation,” said Dr. Krushinskie, who is also director of quality assurance and food safety for Mountaire Farms in Millsboro, Delaware.

In 2006, she noted, FSIS began posting industry performance categories to highlight how well the industry was doing in meeting the Salmonella standards, listing individual plants according to their success in meeting strict standards.

“These data reveal remarkable improvements,” Dr. Krushinskie said. “Between the first quarter of 2006 and the fourth quarter of 2008, the percent of broiler establishments operating at the category 1 performance level – achieving Salmonella prevalence levels averaging less than 10 percent – increased from 35.5 percent to 82 percent.”

Dr. Krushinkie also urged the committee to steer clear of any proposals to fund the work of food safety agencies, such as FSIS and the Food & Drug Administration, through fees charged to companies regulated by the agencies.

“Although adequate funding is crucial to the effectiveness of any regulatory agency, user fees are not the answer,” she said. “Congress should continue to fund regulatory agencies through appropriations,” rather than by fees tied to the agencies’ activities.

“These activities are central to the government’s role in enforcing the law; they are government activities, not voluntary services for which companies receive commercial benefits,” she said.

The National Chicken Council, based in Washington, D.C., represents integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce and process chickens. Member companies of NCC account for approximately 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States.

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Joint Councils Announced by Poultry Industry Organizations

April 8, 2009

For Immediate Release
U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation

April 8, 2009

ATLANTA – U. S. Poultry & Egg Association, National Chicken Council, and National Turkey Federation have formed joint councils on human resources and safety. The Joint Poultry Industry Human Resources Council and the Joint Poultry Industry Safety and Health Council consolidate what previously were separate committees that addressed similar issues.

The objective is to enhance the coordination of industry programs in these areas. The industry faces challenges that are common to all three organizations, and the joint councils will streamline their efforts and eliminate duplication.

The three organizations established the goals of the new councils:
• Provide a strong unified voice for the poultry industry.
• Promote information exchange between the associations and their members.
• More effectively utilize industry and association resources.
• Reduce the burden on industry representatives by combining the committees.
• Each association may still address species-specific concerns.

“Our three associations bonded our respective Environmental Committees together a few years ago, allowing the industry to speak with a common voice and effectively utilize each organization’s strengths,” said John Starkey, president of U.S. Poultry & Egg Association. “We believe this move will enable the industry to enjoy the same efficiency and effectiveness in the critical HR and safety areas,” he added.

George Watts, president of the National Chicken Council also commended the joint effort. “We are pleased to join with the National Turkey Federation and U.S. Poultry & Egg Association in forming industry councils on human resources and safety,” he said. “Workplace safety and health is a key objective and core value for all poultry processing companies. The councils will provide a strong unified voice for the poultry industry and will help us effectively focus time and effort on important issues.”

“The turkey industry is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment where employees can work with respect and dignity,” said National Turkey Federation president Joel Brandenberger. “The joint councils will allow NTF, the National Chicken Council and U.S. Poultry & Egg Association to collaborate on important worker safety and health issues in a manner that enhances the benefits to members of all three associations. NTF is looking forward to working with the other organizations in this exciting effort,” he said.

NCC AND USPOULTRY CHALLENGE EPA’S CAFO REGULATIONS AND GUIDANCE

April 8, 2009

Monday, April 6, 2009

The National Chicken Council and U.S. Poultry & Egg Association have filed suit in the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to challenge certain aspects of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new regulation on water pollution discharges from so-called confined animal feeding operations, or CAFO’s.

The new regulation was issued in response to the industry’s victory in the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York in 2005, in which the court said EPA could not require growers to apply for permits merely because they have a “potential to discharge” pollutants to the waters of the United States. EPA has replaced that portion of the rule with a new provision that would require permits where there is a “proposal to discharge.” The lawsuit will challenge the new requirement as not conforming to the Second Circuit’s ruling.

In addition, the lawsuit challenges recent guidance documents, issued by EPA in the form of letters, that interpret the CAFO regulation. The letters essentially say a grower has a “proposal to discharge,” and therefore must apply for a permit, if poultry housing has a ventilation fan that may potentially exhaust dust or other substances on the ground where rain water might wash them into a ditch leading to surface waters. NCC and USPOULTRY will argue that Congress did not intend to regulate these normal agricultural practices when it enacted the Clean Water Act.

The National Chicken Council represents integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce and process chickens. Member companies of NCC account for approximately 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States.

The U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, the “All Feather” association, is a national organization that represents its members in all aspects of poultry and eggs on both a national and an international level. The association’s focus is research, education, communications and technical services. USPOULTRY serves producers of broilers, turkeys, eggs and breeding stock, as well as allied companies.

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