Raymond acknowledged deep concern about the recent spate of foodborne disease outbreaks but said he had expanded the USDA’s inspection and testing program to combat it, according to the story. “The measures are a reflection of our concern about the Canadian inspection system based on the audit findings of May 1June 6, 2007, and the circumstances related to the unsafe practices employed by Rancher’s Beef, Ltd.,” the Balzac, Alta., packing plant whose products were linked to the contaminated Topps ground beef, James wrote. The increased inspections, ground beef testing for E coli, and testing of ready-to-eat products “will be at the rate of approximately double that of the past year for Canada,” James’s letter states. Nov 8, 2007 (CIDRAP News) Starting tomorrow, US inspection and testing of imported Canadian meat and poultry products will roughly double and will include a category of beef products that has not previously been subject to testing, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said today. Begin E coli testing of raw beef trim, boxed beef, and “subprimals” (smaller cuts of meat from the major carcass components, such as loin, chuck, and round) normally sent for grinding See also: The expanded program will continue while two USDA teams finishing inspecting the Rancher’s Beef facility, seven other Canadian facilities that were flagged for problems in the last USDA audit, and some slaughter plants that are similar to the Alberta facility in their “start-up and operations,” James wrote. Raymond said the FSIS has adequate tools to ensure food safety and does not need legislation granting mandatory product recall authority, according to a CongressDaily report today. (In contrast, this week the Bush administration, in a new food protection plan prepared by the Food and Drug Administration, said the FDA needs the authority to compel food recalls.) The USDA announced Nov 3 it would increase inspections and testing of Canadian products this week, after beef trim from an Alberta meat producer was implicated in an E coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to ground beef sold by Topps Meat Co. of Elizabeth, N.J. But in the initial announcement the agency gave few details about the testing plan. The USDA released more information today in a letter from Dr. William James of the agency’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The letter, published online by the FSIS, said the agency would: Testifying before the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry, Raymond said, “We think our present system works well,” and added that meat processors have always cooperated with the USDA on recalls, the report said. “In two recent cases FSIS acted upon epidemiological evidence that linked illness to opened, FSIS-inspected product found in consumers’ freezers, where previously, we believed the agency needed a test result from an intact or unopened package because of the possibility of cross-contamination [from other foods],” he was quoted as saying. He said that product lots will be held at import houses until samples test negative for pathogens. If a sample tests positive, the lot it came from will be rejected. However, FSIS “will consider submitted alternatives to holding product at import houses pending test results,” the letter says. Policy change revealedRaymond said the E coli outbreak traced to Topps Meat has prompted one particular change in the FSIS’s policies, according to a report today by Meatingplace.com. James also said the new precaution of testing beef trim, boxed beef, and subprimals normally destined for grinding will be permanent and will be extended to all exporting countries starting at the beginning of 2008. Oct 29 CIDRAP News story “E coli in Topps beef traced to Canadian firm”http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/fs/food-disease/news/oct2907beef.html Increase testing of raw ground beef for E coli O157:H7 Increase testing of ready-to-eat products for Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella Raymond also said he didn’t believe “risk-based inspection” would have prevented the Topps outbreak, according to Meatingplace.com. Risk-based inspection is the name for a USDA proposal to focus more of its attention on meat and poultry plants that have weak safety records. FSIS letter about increased testing of Canadian productshttp://www.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/Canada_O157_Testing_Letter.pdf “I believe that we need to take additional time to strengthen our system and our data collection capabilities before moving forward” with risk-based inspection, Raymond was quoted as saying. Increase inspections of Canadian meat, poultry, and pasteurized egg products Nov 5 CIDRAP News story “USDA to increase testing of Canadian meat”http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/fs/food-disease/news/nov0507beef.html Official defends FSIS recordIn related news, the FSIS’s handling of meat recalls was defended by USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Richard Raymond in testimony before a congressional committee yesterday. E coli contamination has prompted 19 meat recalls so far this year, compared with eight for all of last year. The Topps recall involved more than 21 million pounds of ground beef and forced the company out of business.
“We’ll see,” Roberts said. “When Clayton comes back, we’ll make that decision.”Joc talkOutfielder Joc Pederson started his rehab assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma City on Friday by going 1 for 2 with a single and two walks while playing six innings in center field.Pederson is expected to get four more plate appearances Saturday and again Sunday before traveling to join the Dodgers for their series in Washington beginning Tuesday.Pederson has been out since June 28 when he ran into the outfield wall at Miller Park while making a catch. Pederson suffered a bruised AC joint in his right shoulder.New injuryOutfielder Trayce Thompson was not in the starting lineup Friday against left-hander Patrick Corbin due to lower back irritation. Thompson did receive treatment on his lower back on occasion during the first half of the season. But Roberts said this issue cropped up when Thompson felt something on a swing in Sunday’s game against the San Diego Padres.“There’s a little bit of a nagging something going on,” Roberts said. “With four days [off for the All-Star break], we’ll give him a couple more days after that and see where he’s at. But I don’t want to put him in harm’s way. Just want to get it right.”Roberts said he was “not going to rule out” Thompson going to the DL if the irritation doesn’t clear up in the next few days. If Thompson doesn’t appear in a game against the Diamondbacks, any DL move could be backdated to Sunday.After emerging as more of an offensive contributor than expected in April and May, Thompson has slipped into a deep slump. He has just 11 hits over his past 77 at-bats (.143) and is hitting .189 since the start.NotesOutfielder Andre Ethier said he had a bone scan on his right leg Friday in Arizona and was awaiting the results. Ethier has been taking batting practice and throwing, but his running is limited until he is cleared by doctors to increase his activity. Roberts said he is optimistic Ethier will be able to return in mid-August. … According to Roberts, Kike’ Hernandez is still experiencing some soreness in his side and is “still in that rehab mode.” Hernandez was placed on the DL June 29 with left ribcage irritation. “Obviously with Clayton coming back, I don’t foresee a six-man rotation for any extent of time,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “We’ll make that decision when the time comes.”Left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu has the most tenuous hold on a spot in the Dodgers’ current rotation. He gave up six runs in less than five innings in his first start back in the majors following surgery to repair a torn labrum in his pitching shoulder.But neither Ryu or Brandon McCarthy are candidates to move to the bullpen. Neither are Scott Kazmir or Kenta Maeda who have made one relief appearance each in their extensive professional careers.Bud Norris is the only member of the current rotation with any experience pitching out of the bullpen. He made 12 relief appearances for the Atlanta Braves this season after losing his spot in their rotation after a poor April. In 42 relief appearances during his career, Norris has a 4.73 ERA and 1.46 WHIP.With Kershaw’s comeback fast approaching, the current group figures to get one more start each to make their case to stay in the rotation after the ace returns. PHOENIX >> The clock is ticking for someone in the Dodgers’ starting rotation.Ace Clayton Kershaw will throw approximately 60 pitches in four simulated innings to hitters from Class-A Rancho Cucamonga at Dodger Stadium on Saturday. Left-hander Alex Wood will do the same.Kershaw should be ready to come off the disabled list after passing this final hurdle and could start for the Dodgers as early as Thursday in Washington or Friday in St. Louis. Wood will most likely go on a minor-league injury-rehabilitation assignment before he is activated from the DL some time around the start of August.But Kershaw’s return next week will give the Dodgers six starting pitchers. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error