The USDA, or the United States Department of Agriculture, is responsible for ensuring the safety of the meat products in this nation. While grading is a voluntary process for the producers, inspection is mandatory. This was made so with the passing of the Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Poultry Products Inspection Act.
The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), a division of the USDA, is now responsible for checking all poultry and raw meat sold between states as well as that which is imported. Each state has an inspection agency in place as well. The FSIS oversees those agencies to ensure consistency throughout the nation. If a state can no longer manage or fund their inspection program, the FSIS must take over the responsibilities.
As a result of the efforts made to ensure the safety of meat and poultry, processing plants have become much more sophisticated, cleaner, and better managed. In addition, producers have moved beyond local markets and now offer a wide variety of meat and poultry products to a much broader marketplace.
All meat and poultry products must be inspected and stamped with approval (a non-toxic, vegetable dye stamp) before it can be sold to the public. Furthermore, the USDA requires that all meat packaging be labeled with “safe handling instructions” panels. Following the directions on the instruction panel can prevent later contamination.
Although all proper precautions are made, there is never an absolute guarantee that something won’t go wrong in the packaging, shipping, or selling process that leads to E. coli exposure. If you feel that you have suffered from severe food poisoning as the result of eating out at a dining establishment or as a result of buying tainted food, then it is important to seek medical attention and to speak to an attorney.