Following February's 143 million-pound beef recall in response to the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Co. animal-handling case, U.S. legislators have been calling for greater transparency in the meat processing and food-safety recall system.
On Monday, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and 10 co-sponsors introduced the Food Safety Recall Information Act-- or H.R. 5762. If passed, the bill will require USDA to list all retail stores and school districts that had received food products involved in a food-safety related recall.
DeLauro stated that she objects to a proposed USDA rule that would make such recall information available only for Class I recalls. Those are recalls that pose the highest risk to human health. DeLauro pointed out that the Hallmark/Westland recall would have been unaffected as it was a Class II recall. Such recalls carry a much lower or no risk to human health.
Among the other aspects of the new Food Safety Recall Information Act:
- It would require USDA to list all retail stores and school districts that received meat products subjected to voluntary recall, regardless of the recall classification.
- It would require companies that recall any USDA-regulated food product to provide a list of retail stores and school districts that received the product.
- It would require USDA to update this list continuously as the information is received, whether by the company doing the recall, or notification from the entity receiving the product.
- It would eliminate what it called a "loophole" that allows some downed cattle to be slaughtered under certain circumstances if they pass an additional inspection.
Co-sponsoring the bill are Reps. James McDermott (D-Wash.), Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Betty Sutton (D-Ohio), Steven Rothman (D-N.J.), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.), Sam Farr (D-Calif.), James McGovern (D-Mass.), Janice Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.).