Schwarzenegger supports law to end meat recall secrecy

05-10-2006 | | |

A new Californian law, which is in conflict with a State agreement with the US Department of Agriculture, will allow Californian public health officials to make public the names of retailers that receive USDA-recalled meat and poultry.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed the bill, which aims to enable consumers to better protect themselves from food-borne illnesses.
In 2002, California’s Department of Health Services (DHS) signed a secrecy agreement with USDA, agreeing not to release the names of the stores and restaurants where tainted, USDA-recalled beef and poultry have been shipped and sold. Under the agreement, the names of retailers selling recalled beef and poultry products tainted with E. coli and listeria are kept secret from the public.
Federal and California state agencies maintain that secrecy is necessary in order to protect the proprietary interests of the beef and poultry industries. But eighty percent of Californians believe that the public should be told the names of retail stores and restaurants that receive and sell potentially contaminated, USDA-recalled beef and poultry, according to a 2006 Field Research Corporation survey.
More than eight in ten Californians (84%) favor mandatory recalls when unacceptable levels of contaminants are found in beef and poultry products, compared to just 11% who favor the current system of voluntary company recalls.
“Most Californians want meat producers to be required to come forward when they suspect contamination of their products. And most Californians don’t want to be left in the dark about which stores and restaurants are selling tainted meat. By signing this bill, the Governor has shown his commitment to protecting the health of California families and the safety of the food supply,” said Elisa Odabashian, Director of Consumers Union’s West Coast Office.
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