Banned beef "tip of the iceberg"

NHK reports that the head of a U.S. union of government food inspectors says that a shipment of banned beef parts to Japan last month is only the tip of the iceberg:

The U.S. Agriculture Department released a report last week that said the faulty shipment was an isolated case. But the chairman of the National Joint Council of Food Inspection Locals, Charles Painter, told NHK that it was only by chance that risky cattle parts which could cause mad cow disease were detected.

Charles Painter/Food inspection chief:
"And this is just the tip of the iceberg. This is not the first offense; it's just the first time they got caught, in that period after the ban. After the ban was removed. That inspector does not open the box. That inspector does not look inside the boxes. We need more authority. The policy needs to change and we need more authority to be able to inspect, to look, to do -- things of that nature."

Last year, Mr Painter prompted the Agriculture Department to disclose that there had been more than one thousand cases in one year in which US meat processors failed to remove high-risk cattle parts.

Consumers Union, the U.S. consumer organization, is very critical of beef safety in the U.S. Read their analysis here and here (pdf).


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