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Food Safety Inspection Service Report: USDA won’t require meat and poultry testing for COVID-19

July 10, 2020

Plant-based diet advocates known as the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine failed to persuade USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service that it should require all meat to be tested for the presence of SARS-CoV-2.

The Washington D.C.-based lobbying organization petitioned FSIS on May 20 to require all meat and poultry establishments to test and report on a weekly bases the number of workers and the number of their family members with presumptive or confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections and those dying of COVID-19.

The petition also sought weekly posting of the number of FSIS inspectors with presumptive or confirmed SARS- CoV-2 infections and those dying of COVID- 19 on the USDA website. In addition, it wanted meat and poultry to carry a label stating: “Warning: Workers in the U.S. meat and poultry processing facilitates have been sickened or killed by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and this product has not been certified virus-free.”  It also wanted retails to post the warnings.

The FSIS, on July 1, sent the committee a letter denying the petition. The agency said public health and food safety experts have found no evidence to support the notion that COVID-19 is transmitted by meat or poultry products.

“We have conducted an expedited review and have decided to deny your petition,”  FSIS said. “We have determined that neither the petition nor the addendum includes scientific studies or other information to demonstrate that COVID-19 can be transmitted to humans by meat or poultry products. In addition, some of the actions you are requesting are outside the scope of FSIS’s authority. The actions requested in your petition would not contribute to FSIS’s public health mission to ensure that meat, poultry, and processed egg products are safe, wholesome, unadulterated, and properly marked, labeled, and packaged.”

The FSIS said the petition did not include any reference studies or supporting information to demonstrate that COVID-19 can be transmitted by meat and poultry products or any other food.

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