The weekly fish-frys are coming to an end, so as you return to your pepperoni-pizza Fridays, it’s important to be well informed on the quality of the foods you’re consuming.

The United States has the highest standard of meat inspection in the modern world. Since the early twentieth century with the passage of the Meat Inspection Act, the US has worked to continually improve the standards of its federal food-related programs. Today, under the supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) inspects and monitors all meat, poultry, and egg products sold across states and internationally. FSIS ensures that products sold within the US are “at least equal to” (Source) their standards, though many states implement greater restrictions on the products produced within their borders.

Along with FSIS, the United States has adopted a risk-reduction system followed also by the United Kingdom. The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) operates on a system of “Plan, Do, Check, Act.” These steps have been outlined on the basis of seven principles:

  • Identify potential hazards
  • Create “critical control points“ (CCPs) for situations that require focus
  • establish limits for the CCPs
  • “Monitor the CCPs”
  • “establish corrective actions to be taken if a CCP is not under control”
  • Verify if procedures are being followed
  • Document and record every step/precaution taken

(Source)

These seven principles are focused on preventing issues that may arise from microbiological, chemical, and physical hazards. E.coli and Salmonella are a few of the meat-borne pathogens these tests work to prevent. Though the FDA appoints regular inspectors, they also recommended a self-assessment of nine parts of meat-producing and packaging, some which go well beyond the scientific side of the industry.

“ (1) statutory authority and food safety regulations; (2) inspection; (3) product sampling; (4) staffing and training; (5) humane handling laws and regulations; (6) other consumer protection; (7) enforcement regulations; (8) civil rights requirements; and (9) funding and financial accountability requirements.” 
-National Conference of State Legislatures

While there is still much to be discovered about the meats we consume, the United States along with its international counterparts are working continually to improve the quality of the products they approve for commerce. To become a more informed consumer, visit the USDA website to view a list of approved meat vendors in your area!