“The U.S. Department of Agriculture is beefing up testing for veterinary drug residues in the meat supply – and the new policy will take effect this grilling season.
The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service today will announce a new, more modern testing system that allows the agency to test for dozens of drugs, pesticides, and other potentially harmful compounds simultaneously, instead of only testing for one or a handful of compounds in each meat sample.
The change is a significant update to an often-overlooked part of the food safety system. For the last several years much of the focus has been on microbiological contamination, but much less attention has been paid to drug and chemical contamination in the food supply.
In 2010, the USDA’s Inspector General published a report questioning whether the agency was doing enough to keep harmful drug and chemical residues out of beef products, but the issue has not received much media attention since.
“The new testing methods being announced today will help protect consumers from illegal drug residues in meat products,” said Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen. “By allowing us to test for more chemical compounds from each sample, these changes will enable USDA to identify and evaluate illegal drug residues more effectively and efficiently.”
Using new multi-residue methods, FSIS will be able to test for 55 pesticide chemicals, 9 kinds of antibiotics, various metals, and eventually more than 50 other chemicals”
What results it will have or how effectively it will be implemented remains to be seen. I still believe that consumer protests directly to the grocery store chains will have the most impact (like they did with pink slime). If you get a chance to sign a petition or express your position to Safeway, Trader Joes, Albertsons or other grocers about being willing to buy only antibiotic-free meat and poultry, I hope you will do so.