Today, in a Dallas, Texas U.S. District Court, Judge A. Joe Fish ruled in the Case of Supreme Beef that the United States Department of Agriculture cannot remove its inspectors from a processing facility based solely on the finding of Salmonella in raw ground beef. This ruling by Judge Fish "should not be construed as a threat to food safety or the progress already made by the food industry and USDA to implement Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point systems and to enhance the safety of our nation's food supply," according to Dane Bernard, Vice President of Food Safety Programs for the National Food Processors Association (NFPA).

"Judge Fish's ruling in no way undermines the laws and regulations governing food safety," Bernard stated. "USDA's HACCP performance standards -- including Salmonella standards -- were intended by USDA to be a benchmark for measuring a meat processing plant's overall 'process control.' We continue to support the common objective of reducing levels of Salmonella in raw meat items," Bernard said.

Bernard said that "It is NFPA's strong belief that all attempts to establish standards must be based on sound science. Reducing Salmonella on raw meat and poultry is the right objective, but criteria and resulting enforcement actions must be set on the best scientific evidence available and should not be arbitrary. The goal should not be to establish a legalistic, bright-line standard, but rather to develop sound strategies to further enhance food safety."

"NFPA is eager to work with USDA to develop scientifically based microbiological performance criteria that will advance the cause of consumer safety. USDA should take corrective action immediately to address scientific deficiencies in its enforcement strategy," Bernard concluded.

NFPA is the voice of the $460 billion food processing industry on scientific and public policy issues involving food safety, nutrition, technical and regulatory matters and consumer affairs. For more information or to arrange an interview with an NFPA spokesperson on this subject, contact Jason Whiting, NFPA's Director of Media Relations and External Affairs, at (202) 639-5919, or visit NFPA's Website at www.nfpa-food.org.