17 January 2010

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “More Perils of Ground Meat” (editorial, Jan. 10):

Instead of encouraging efforts to improve food safety, you demonize a company that had the courage to invest in innovative technology proved to be effective in reducing dangerous pathogens.

The American food safety system is the highest standard in the world, and our ground beef is the safest.

According to the most recent information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s FoodNet Data, there have been no significant increases in food-borne illness since 2005, and there were significant declines before then.

Furthermore, recent analysis by the Food Safety and Inspection Service for E. coli O157:H7 shows that in the last year the percent of positive raw ground beef samples has dropped from to 0.30 percent from 0.47 percent at federally inspected establishments.

Furthermore, where there was a modest increase detected in raw ground beef components, Beef Products Inc.’s rate of positives is well below industry averages (0.05 percent for 2009 versus 0.99 percent).

Food safety is the No. 1 goal of industry, government and consumers. Beef Products’ technology, which has been approved by both the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration—as is thoroughly set forth on its Web site—provides consumers safe products.

Jeremy Russell
Director of Communications and Government Relations
National Meat Association
Oakland, Calif., Jan. 11, 2010

To the Editor:

I’ve been involved in beef safety research since college, and I don’t recognize the industry you’ve depicted in recent articles.

Your readers probably don’t realize how many different individuals—university researchers, lab technicians, quality assurance managers and so many others—work daily to bring safe beef to dinner tables across the country.

E. coli O157:H7 and other food-borne threats are tough, adaptable foes. But the people who raise and package beef share a commitment to aggressively finding and applying safety solutions that keep them out of our food.

Beef farmers and ranchers alone have invested more than $28 million since 1993 in beef safety research, and the industry as a whole invests an estimated $350 million a year on safety.

I know the people of the beef industry, and I’m proud of the work we do every day to provide safe food.

Mandy Carr Johnson
Executive Director of Research
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
Centennial, Colo., Jan. 11, 2010