FSIS already tests for the presence of chenical compounds including legal and illegal veterinary drugs, pesticides, hormones and environmental contaminents through its National Residue Program (NRP). The new measures will enable it to extend this testing, analysing samples for more chemical compounds than previously possible.
Using multi-residue methods, FSIS will be able to test one sample for 55 pesticide chemicals, 9 kinds of antibiotics, various metals, and eventually more than 50 other chemicals.
USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen said: “The new testing methods being announced today will help protect consumers from illegal drug residues in meat products. By allowing us to test for more chemical compounds from each sample, these changes will enable USDA to identify and evaluate illegal drug residues more effectively and efficiently.”
FSIS is also increasing the annual number of samples per slaughter class from 300 to 800. Any plants with samples that exceed legal residue levels will be reported to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
FSIS is now consulting on the announcement, which is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on July 6 and would take effect 30 days after the Federal Register notice is published.
The measures are the latest in a range of steps proposed by FSIS to improve food safety in the US over the past two years. Others include the introduction of a zero-tolerance policy for higa-toxin producing E. coli (STEC) serogroups; stricter labelling requirements for raw meat and poultry products; a new database on public health trends and food safety violations; performance standards for poultry establishments; and a test and hold policy on meat products.