Pew Urges More Meat Safety Interventions

Wider use of evidence-based food safety interventions on farms and feedlots would reduce significantly the risk of people getting sick from contaminated meat and poultry, says a report by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The report, “Food Safety From Farm to Fork,” examined potential means to prevent foodborne illnesses by investing in strategies to control Salmonella, E.coli and other pathogens that live in and around food animals.  The strategies listed were aimed at reductions before the animals or birds arrived at the packing plant.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga., says 31 major known pathogens acquired in the US each year caused an estimated 9.4 million episodes of foodborne illness.  Additional episodes of illness were caused by unspecified agents.

It’s safe to say that significant health care costs arise from these infections.  Pew said estimates reach nearly $2.5 billion for cases linked to poultry, $1.9 billion for pork and $1.4 billion for beef.

Additionally, from 2005 to 2015, potential contamination with one of three pathogens, Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes or Shiga toxin-producing E.coli, let to recalls representing about half of the roughly 425 million pounds of meat and poultry products removed from the marketplace for any reason, Pew said.




The report identified successful pre-harvest interventions, including several already used by some producers in the US and other countries, and highlighted those shown to reduce the risk of illness associated with contaminated meat and poultry.

The report made the following recommendations:


  • Government agencies should fund research into how to best manage herds or flocks to maintain animal health and keep harmful bacteria out; support field trials to gather accurate data on efficacy, application protocols and the basic science associated with promising but poorly understood pre-harvest interventions; designate resources to evaluate how to best combine multiple existing interventions, and consider incentives to spur additional research into pre-harvest food safety efforts.
  • Regulatory agencies should provide incentives for implementing pre-harvest food safety interventions, including those that enhance biosecurity and herd and flock management practices; consider ways to synthesize data systematically and prioritize where and when interventions should be applied; improve the regulatory approval process to ensure that promising products reach the market; and increase collaboration and communication among all stakeholders to raise awareness about promising interventions.
  • Industry should consider individual pre-harvest interventions within the larger context of managing the health of the herd or flock and implement adequate controls to protect animal health and keep pathogens out, such as setting standards for the safety of feed and water on farms and feedlots.
  • All stakeholders should develop information technology infrastructure and capacity to encourage sharing of efficacy and safety data among industry, academia, governmental researchers, and regulatory agencies, and keep all parties apprised of up-to-date research and information.




Fed cattle sales on the livestock exchange video auction Wednesday averaged $117.68 per cwt, down $0.59 from $118.27 last week.  Lots with one- to nine-day delivery sold at $117.72, compared with $118.30 the previous week, and lots with one- to 17-day delivery sold at $117.63, compared with $118.00 last week.

Light cash cattle trading was reported at $117 per cwt on a live basis, down from $118.25 to $120.50, mostly $120 the previous week.  Dressed-basis trade was at $187 to $188, down $2.

The USDA’s choice cutout Monday was down $0.47 per cwt at $205.75, while select was up $1.02 at $197.84.  The choice/select spread narrowed to $7.91 from $9.40 with 81 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Monday was $150.41 per cwt, up $1.05.  This compares with Monday’s Aug settlement at $146.17, up $0.12.