In letters sent to Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Rep. Dennis Rehberg, R-Mont., this week, R-CALF USA relayed that the organization has endorsed and supports what is referred to as The Traceback Bill, a proposal by John Munsell of Montana to achieve traceback of beef products to their point of slaughter, and requested that the trio consider carrying the proposed legislation forward to both chambers of Congress.
“One reason for our endorsement of this proposal is the recent E.coli recalls in America,” wrote R-CALF USA President/Region VI Director Max Thornsberry, a Missouri veterinarian. “Subsequent news media reports show that consumers’ confidence has been shaken, which could reduce consumer demand for our beef products. R-CALF USA is concerned that continuing recalls will occur until USDA forces the slaughter plants, which are the origin of E.coli and Salmonella-contaminated meat, to implement effective corrective actions.
“If passed, The Traceback Bill proposal would require USDA to trace back to the plant of pathogen contamination, and force noncompliant plants to change production practices to reduce the likelihood of shipping contaminated meat into commerce,” he continued. “R-CALF USA firmly believes that USDA enforcement actions must be directed toward plants that are the source of contamination, not at downstream facilities, which are merely the destination of previously contaminated meat.”
R-CALF USA’s member-approved policy asserts that the current HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) form of meat inspection “has failed to protect the consuming public and thereby hurts beef demand.” R-CALF USA members are calling for an immediate reform of HACCP to “return to a ‘hands-on’ method of inspection rather than HACCP’s ‘hands-off’ type of non inspection.” The member-established policy also calls for accurate tracebacks of meat products to slaughtering plants, as would be achieved by The Traceback Bill proposal.
I'm less than happy with this idea. While I agree that slaughter plants are the source of most contamination that plaques the meat supply and that the USDA needs to pay more attention to cleaning them up, I'm afraid this proposal would be a step on a very slippery slope.
I've been very vocal about my opposition to NAIS. If this traceback proposal were to succeed, it would cause a renewed argument for NAIS since then all of a sudden we would have the capability to trace our meat from pasture to plate. Right now the NAIS stuff comes out at the kill room floor and can't be traced beyond that. With the traceback option, all of a sudden mandatory NAIS looks real good.
R-CALF has always been real good about voicing what they want, but they never seem to look at the implications of what they want and that what they are proposing can also be used on them. They don't want beef imported from a "minimal risk" country, Canada, but they want other countries in the world to accept our imports even though we are also considered "minimal risk." This proposal seems to be the same way, you have to trace on your end, slaughter plants, but we don't have to on our end as cattlemen. It's all a little too hypocritical for me.
If the USDA would just do it's job in the slaughter plants right, none of this would be necessary. How is that for a novel solution?
Of mankind we may say in general they are fickle, hypocritical, and greedy of gain. Niccolo Machiavelli