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USDA Developing Position on Codex Meat Safety Initiative.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is working to quickly develop a United States position regarding a code and principles for meat and poultry hygiene that will be taken up by a Codex Alimentarius Commission subgroup in February. "We're at the front end of the process," said John Prucha, assistant deputy administrator of USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service and U.S. delegate to the Codex Committee on Meat and Poultry Hygiene (CCMPH), at a meeting Dec. 12 to discuss drafting the documents.

The agency has crystallized "discussion papers" during the past six to eight weeks and is soliciting industry and public comments, he said. "We expect to be ready with a draft in January." The CCMPH is scheduled to meet in Wellington, New Zealand, February 18-22, 2002, for a first review of the early thinking.

USDA's discussion paper proposing general principles of meat hygiene covers red meat, poultry, and game and currently lists 13 elements. Prucha emphasized that the process intends to yield codes that will be recommendations to individual nations for use in developing their own regulations. Moreover, the recommendations must take into account that some nations have less-developed food safety systems and will not be able to institute the advanced programs of countries such as the United States.

William James, of USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, characterized the proposed code as less prescriptive than previous codes and incorporating a risk-based approach, performance outcomes, more well-defined government and industry roles, and less reliance on organoleptic post-mortem inspection.

The proposed code adds poultry to the products covered and is to replace the following existing codes:

* International Code of Hygienic Practice for Fresh Meat,

* Recommended International Code of Hygienic Practice for Game, and

* Recommended International Code of Practice for Ante-Mortem and Post-Mortem Inspection of Slaughter Animals and for Ante-Mortem and Post-Mortem Judgment of Slaughter Animals and Meat.

Prucha said the committee was inviting written comments and especially suggested wording from constituents as soon as possible. While constituents would be informed of revisions, no further constituent meeting on the drafts is envisioned, he said.
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Publication:Food & Drink Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 7, 2002
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