Sunday, February 14, 2010
Beef Products Inc. Founder and Chairman Eldon Roth announced at the Nation Meat Association's annual conference in California last week that the company will be posting 100% of their E. coli O157:H7 and salmonella test results on their website from now on. The move is part of BPI's efforts to repair its damaged public image following public and media concern over the company's use of ammonia as an antimicrobial "processing aid" in it's ground beef.
The uproar over so-called "ammoniated beef" is a story in itself. The technique, developed by Roth and proprietary to BPI, was originally given special status by the USDA that allowed it to bypass certain inspection requirements, and was considered a "processing aid," meaning that there was no requirment that meat processed with ammonia be labeled as such. This special treatment was based on research that has been called into question by consumer advocates, and that in any case specified higher concentrations of ammonia than ended up in use. News of contaminated BPI meat raised questions about the reliability of the ammonia process and about a lack of company accountability for the safety of the meat (much of which was sold to the school lunch program), and the company has struggled to regain the public trust.
The new policy represents an admirable move toward greater transparency for a major meat processor. It's too bad that this sort of policy only gets implemented as damage control - here's hoping other major producers will follow suit.
The story, courtesy of meatingplace.com.