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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 26, 2000


When this Administration came into office, meat and poultry were inspected by the same old method used for 90 years. In 1996, we began a comprehensive, science-based system that, for the first time, requires plants to reduce bacterial contamination in meat and poultry.

This system has been a tremendous success. In just two years, the presence of dangerous Salmonella on meat and poultry has been reduced by up to 50 percent. And illnesses caused by Salmonella are also down.

Unfortunately, a small minority of meat plants are acting against the best interests of the American people. They threaten to undermine an inspection system that is clearly effective in reducing food poisoning, jeopardizing the confidence that consumers have in the safety of the food they eat.

The Justice Department has vigorously defended this vital program and will decide on an expedited basis what further legal action to take. I am also calling on the food industry to use its vast resources to help ensure that all meat processing plants maintain the strictest possible safety standards.

This Administration will continue to use every available tool to ensure that our food supply remains the safest in the world.