National Cattlemen's Beef Association

Recommendations from
H. Russell Cross

Food safety will continue to be top of mind with domestic and international consumers of U.S. beef. We are in the midst of a massive food safety reform in the U.S. that was triggered by the 1993 E. coli O157:H7 outbreak. In addition, the ongoing E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in Japan has seriously impacted U.S. beef sales in Japan (35-40%) at a cost approaching $1 billion--even though no U.S. beef contributed to the Japanese outbreak. The current administration will have food safety as one of its major focus areas for the next four years. We expect President Clinton to make a significant announcement on food safety in his State of the Union address early next year. With the new HACCP and pathogen reduction regulations in place, we now have, for the first time, national bacterial performance standards on raw meat and poultry. It is expected that results of the USDA tests will be made available to the public on an individual plant basis (World Wide Web and 800 number). For these reasons, the awareness (and perhaps confusion) of the public regarding food safety will continue to increase. It is imperative that the U.S. beef industry become very aggressive to do all that they can do to make beef as safe as possible for their consumer and convince them that they have done so.

The food safety program of the future will be based on risk reduction through prevention programs such as HACCP. These HACCP programs will contain effective hazard prevention or intervention strategies. HACCP will be implemented by the industry with third party oversight from the federal government. The command and control daily oversight will not be necessary nor will it be effective under a strong HACCP program. Finally, the HACCP/prevention system will be implemented from the ranch to the consumer. The final stage of the food safety chain will contain effective educational/awareness programs for the consumer.

The goals of the U.S. beef industry in regard to food safety should include efforts to:

Potential Research Focus Areas
(not listed in priority order)