|The Pew Charitable Trusts, under the direction of consumer advocate Sandra Eskin, has begun a campaign to reduce health risks from foodborne pathogens by strengthening federal government authority and the enforcement of food safety laws.
According to Pew findings, the estimated number of foodborne illnesses in the United states associated with eating meat or poultry is staggering. The centers for Disease Control and Prevention backs up that conclusion. They estimate that "contaminated foods sicken 48 million Americans each year, resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths." And "for the almost 9.4 million illnesses cause by known agents, data suggest that at least 22 percent (over two million cases) are associated with eating meat or poultry."
Some of the bacteria found in meat and poultry include Salmonella, Campylobacter and harmful strains of E.coli. Pew estimates that the annual cost to the United States associated with foodborne illnesses from meat or poultry is $7 billion.
Most national laws governing inspection for meat and poultry, respectively, date back to 1906 and 1957. The Federal Meat Inspection Act of 1906 and the Poultry Products Inspection Act of 1957 cover all beef, pork, and poultry products sold in the United States. These laws require that the U.S. Department of Agriculture employ government inspectors to visually examine each live animal and then its carcass, head, and viscera after slaughter. In Meat and Poultry Inspection 2.0, The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Center for Science in the Public Interest have concluded that the United States, as does the European Union and the United Kingdom, should "commission comprehensive scientific assessment to evaluate its existing meat inspection approaches and alternatives for modernization."
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