New food safety effort targets consumers

by Keith Nunes
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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, which is responsible for ensuring the safety of meat, poultry and egg products, has introduced an electronic consumer complaint form that consumers may use to report concerns about an F.S.I.S.-inspected product.

"Consumers are an important source of the information that F.S.I.S. needs to ensure that America's supply of meat, poultry and egg products is safe," said Elisabeth Hagen, U.S.D.A. under secretary for food safety. "This new tool empowers consumers to report problems directly to F.S.I.S., enhancing our current surveillance of the food supply and our ability to prevent foodborne illness."

Once an incident is reported to the Consumer Complaint Monitoring Service, the F.S.I.S. may determine what public health implications are associated with the incident, if other people are reporting similar issues and if the F.S.I.S. inspectors have identified problems in a facility that may have caused the issue. On a case-by-case basis, the F.S.I.S. said it may conduct additional follow up with complainants, especially if the problem indicates a potentially widespread or severe public health hazard.

The F.S.I.S. said the new service is designed to facilitate the detection of public health threats in the food supply and gives the agency the opportunity to mitigate any threats that may arise.

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