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POOR HANDLING, COOKING AND STORAGE CAUSE 97 PERCENT OF FOOD-BORNE ILLNESS; SAFE HANDLING LABELS WILL TEACH CONSUMERS PREVENTION, AMI SAYS

 WASHINGTON, Aug. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Meat Institute (AMI) said it supports safe handling statements on fresh meat and poultry and called on the federal government to broaden efforts to teach consumers and food handlers how to prevent foodborne illness from all sources.
 "The good news is that this information may help prevent illness from mishandled meat and poultry -- even though these foods account for only one-fourth of reported foodborne illness outbreaks," said AMI President J. Patrick Boyle. "The bad news is that the information covers only a small segment of the total food supply. We think this is a step in the right direction, but consumers need to learn about safe handling of all foods."
 Boyle commended Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy for his aggressive consumer education announcement and called for a similar educational initiative for non-USDA-regulated foods.
 "We call on Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala to develop a similar Food and Drug Administration (FDA) program to teach foodservice workers, retailers, healthcare professionals, consumers and others how to prevent foodborne illness from other fresh foods."
 Boyle called the 60-day implementation period for the new labels "unrealistic" and said AMI would request a more reasonable period of time so that labels can be designed, produced and distributed throughout the production chain.
 He also noted that AMI released safe handling brochures for consumers and foodservice operators in March. The brochures detail special requirements for ground meat and ground poultry and will soon be available in Spanish. Hundreds of thousands of these brochures are currently available in supermarkets and in packages shipped to foodservice establishments nationwide. They were developed by AMI, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), the National Live Stock and Meat Board, USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the Extension Service and the FDA.
 "The key to preventing foodborne illness is education and vigilance," Boyle commented. "In that context, we believe everyone in the food production system -- from farm to table -- will benefit from the kind of outreach announced by Secretary Espy today."
 AMI, a national trade association, represents the interests of packers and processors of meat and other animal protein products. Headquartered in Washington, the institute provides legislative, regulatory and public relations services, conducts scientific and economic research, offers marketing and technical assistance and sponsors education programs.
 -0- 8/11/93
 /CONTACT: Sara Clarke or Janet Riley of the American Meat Institute, 703-841-2400/


CO: American Meat Institute ST: District of Columbia IN: HEA SU: EXE

TW -- DC015 -- 1702 08/11/93 12:52 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Aug 11, 1993
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