Requiring On-Farm Foodborne Disease Controls
FACT supports improving the animal feed system to prevent the spread of livestock and human disease such as Mad Cow and Salmonella.
FACT supports federal mandates that would require livestock producers to reduce foodborne pathogens on the farm. Many organisms that make people sick can live in and be transferred between livestock. Sometimes they may cause sickness in the infected animals, but often they cause no noticeable effects on the animal. When consumers eat meat, milk, or eggs from these animals or come into contact with polluted water or food contaminated with animal manure, they can become sick.
An important first step in reducing on-farm pathogens is for the FDA to publish the Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) in shell eggs rule. SE is one of the most common causes of foodborne bacterial illness in humans and is most often found within raw shell eggs. It is estimated that almost 200,000 people become ill from SE each year. Most cases of SE are caused by eating contaminated eggs that are undercooked. Because of this, SE can best be controlled by keeping it out of eggs in the first place. SE can be controlled by taking samples in the hen house at intervals during the laying cycle and testing the samples for SE. If a sample comes back positive for SE, the eggs themselves may be tested, and if so, none of the eggs should be sold to consumers. Laying houses should also be cleaned and disinfected between flocks.
FACT has long supported federal rules that would require egg producers to reduce the contamination of eggs with Salmonella. Since 1999, the federal government has considered mandating steps that egg producers could take to reduce SE infections in their flocks and consequently in people. FACT has worked with the federal agencies throughout this period, advocating for a strong on-farm program. In 2004, the FDA published a proposed rule that would require egg producers to control SE using management protocols that FACT has long promoted, such as those described above. FACT continues to pressure the agency to publish a final rule and to implement its requirements. This will be the first time a federal agency will have required livestock producers to monitor for a foodborne pathogen and then take steps to protect the public by reducing its prevalence.
Intervening in international food safety and farm husbandry policies
FACT is an active participant in Codex and is currently working to develop international support for a strong response to the threat of antibiotic resistance. The Codex Alimentarius is an international standards setting body that was creating by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Decisions in Codex are made through consensus by member governments. FACT participates both by being the consumer representative on US delegations, and as an observer through our membership in Consumer's International, an international, non-governmental organization.
While FACT does not have a vote as a non-governmental observer, we are able to speak and comment on issues before the various committees and have been able to help influence the outcome of several key documents. Most of our work to date has been in the Codex Committee on Residues of Veterinary Drugs in Food (CCRVDF) because this committee has historically played a major role in developing recommendations on steps to reduce the problem of antimicrobial resistance. Our involvement now also includes the recently created Codex Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance. Through participation in this Task Force we will advocate for standards that reduce the overuse of antimicrobials in livestock.