Harkin: Meat safety requires ID program
By PHILIP BRASHER
Washington, D.C. — Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Ia., says this month’s massive beef recall shows that it’s time to have a national animal identification system.
Harkin, the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said today that a lot of meat could have been saved if inspectors had been able to trace some suspect cows slaughtered by a California packing plant. Instead, the processor was forced to recall 143 million pounds of beef, a full two years’ worth of production.
Harkin said his panel would pursue the ID issue once work on the farm bill is finished, but he stopped short of saying that Congress should make the program mandatory. Many cattle producers strongly oppose being required to participate in an ID system.
“This is a matter of public safety, and we’ve got to get to it very soon,” Harkin said.