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Experts Urge Posting Meat, Poultry Inspection Data on Web

Online information could help consumers make better choices, National Research Council says

THURSDAY, Dec. 1, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- Posting information about inspections and testing at meat, poultry and egg processing plants on the Internet so it can be viewed by the public could have "substantial benefits," according to a report released Wednesday.

The report is from the National Research Council (NRC), a private, nonprofit institution that provides expert advice on challenges facing the United States and the world.

According to the council, the public release of such information could help consumers make more informed choices, which would motivate meat, poultry and egg processing facilities to improve their performance.

Even if some firms don't make improvements in response to consumer pressure, overall food safety could improve, the authors of the report noted in a news release from the National Academies.

In the United States, the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is responsible for ensuring that meat, poultry and processed egg products are safe and properly labeled. The FSIS collects an enormous amount of data and although some of this information is currently available on the Internet, it is combined and does not contain the names of specific processing facilities.

The type of information being considered to be made available on the website for public viewing includes inspection and enforcement data and sampling and testing data.

The NRC committee that examined the issue and wrote the report said it believes there are strong arguments to support the public release of facility-specific information.

More information

The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service has more about food safety.

SOURCE: National Academies, news release, Nov. 30, 2011
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