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011227 Plants Violating Salmonella Rules WON’T be Closed

December 15, 2001

New York - The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced it will not close meat processing plants that violate its salmonella safety standard, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The announcement, a win for the meat-processing industry, comes after a federal appeals court decision that the department's guideline was not scientifically based and could not be used as an indication of other more dangerous agents in meat products, the newspaper said in its online edition.

The court said the department did not have the authority to enforce the salmonella standard and close Supreme Beef Processors Inc., of Dallas, Texas, in 1999 after the company failed tests for salmonella several times.

The company was the first to be shut for failing to meet the salmonella standard.

The National Food Processors Association has promised to fight legislative moves to punish meat and poultry plants that fail to satisfy salmonella safety standards set by the USDA.

The National Food Processors Association says it generally supports the USDA's bacteria testing program to measure how well plants are reducing meat and poultry contamination.

But failure to meet the standard should not be used by the USDA to withdraw federal meat inspectors and, in effect, close down a plant, the group has said.

The USDA began testing for salmonella in 1996. The newspaper cited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as stating that the bacteria make at least 40,000 people sick a year, killing about 1,000.


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