US poultry industry concerned over release of food safety data
Influx of data could lead to confusion, misinterpretation
The National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation and U.S. Poultry and Egg Association have expressed concerns over the public release of establishment-specific food safety data, including the potential for misinterpretation of the data; adverse effects on international trade; the risk that confidential or proprietary information could be deduced; and adverse effects on inspector performance.
The groups believe that their concerns were not completely addressed in the final report released by the National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council, “The Potential Consequences of Public Release of Food Safety and Inspection Service Establishment-Specific Data.” Without proper context, said the groups in a statement, there is concern that the amount of information will be subject to misinterpretation and confusion that could "needlessly alarm consumers and our trading partners.”
FSIS data may already be obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests. Such data includes:
- Microbiological sampling and testing data.
- Residue sampling and testing data.
- Facility-specific noncompliance records identified during routine inspection activities.
- Food-safety assessments, evaluations of the entirety of a facility’s food-safety program, including the nature and source of raw materials, processes, the environment, and all other aspects included under Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points.
- Facility-specific HACCP verifications.
- Foodborne-disease outbreak investigation closeout reports.
“A strong food safety system is the number one priority of the poultry industry,” said the groups. “But as the report itself states, ‘It is not possible to make a direct causal link between public data access and specific food-safety improvements.’”