Rules and Regulations We Never Think About

Since I’ve been blogging, I’ve subscribed to a number of organizations that feed me news alerts via e-mail. One of those organizations is the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). They’re the ones responsible for notifying the public about meat recalls, for one thing.

Another thing they manage is the regulation of meat exports. Choose any country from the list and you’ll see all the rules laid out for how to raise, slaughter, inspect, pack, document, and ship any kind of meat. Who knew?

As an example, the European Union has “co-minglement” rules: “Animals whose meat is intended for export shall be kept separate from animals whose meat is not eligible for export.” And, regarding the opening of stomachs and intestines: “There must be a separate room for emptying and cleaning stomachs and intestines, unless the processing is done by closed-circuit mechanical equipment which avoids contamination and eliminates odors.”

But here’s my favorite: “All bovine meat exported to the European Union must originate from animals that have never been treated with hormonal growth promotants.”

The Europeans, as usual, are on the right track. And we’re still feeding Americans hormones via meat.

Just for fun, check out the rules for Cuba. Poultry from New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania is not eligible for export to Cuba. Poultry from a variety of other states is eligible for export to Cuba. I’m sure there’s a rational explanation. Anyone have a clue?

You could spend days reading all the rules. I guess I’m glad they’ve created them, right?


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