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AMI Foundation Launches Multi-Million Dollar “Food Safety Initiative” to Eliminate Listeria and E. Coli O157:H7 from Meat and Poultry Products

Washington, DC, August 23, 1999 -- The American Meat Institute Foundation (AMIF) has launched a multi-year, multi-million dollar “Food Safety Initiative” intended to find ways the industry can reduce and ultimately eliminate Listeria monocytogenes (L.m.) from ready-to-eat products and E. coli O157:H7 from beef.

Guided by advisory groups made up of industry and academic experts, the Foundation has identified more than $5 million in research and related projects to be conducted over the next two years. The AMI Board of Directors voiced its support for the new Foundation agenda by voting for a special dues assessment on AMI members in 1999 and 2000, which will partially fund the programs. To date, nearly 40 member companies have contributed over $1.4 million. In addition, funds are being raised from non-member companies, other industry groups and the federal government. The projects are being coordinated closely with government, academic and industry researchers to expedite funding and results, and to prevent duplication of efforts.

“We have some very exciting, promising projects already underway,” said AMIF President James Hodges. “We have contracted for nearly $700,000 in research grants with seven universities and some private research companies.”

To reduce and, ultimately, eliminate E. coli O157:H7 from beef, the Foundation is focusing initially upon improved microbiological testing techniques as well as mapping the pathogen as it travels from the live animal to the packing plant to improve the understanding of how better prevention measures can be put in place. Results may help halt the progress of this pathogen from the farm to the food processing facility.

To reduce and, ultimately, eliminate L.m. from ready-to-eat meat and poultry products, the Foundation is focusing first upon new sanitation techniques, anti-bacterial ingredients and optimal post-packaging pasteurization processes that would retard the growth of or destroy this pathogen.

In addition, the Foundation is conducting limited consumer research and issues management projects to augment the larger, scientific research agenda.

“Our efforts in the research, information and education arenas, are ultimately intended to help our industry make an already safe food supply even safer,” said Hodges. “We are gratified by the strong support we have seen from both within and outside our industry. It confirms that this Food Safety Initiative is the right thing to do.”

The Foundation’s Food Safety Initiative will be discussed at the Meat Industry Research Conference, October 26-27, 1999 at the Drake Hotel in Chicago, IL, sponsored by the AMI Foundation, the American Meat Science Association, the Canadian Meat Council and the Canadian Meat Science Association.

The AMI Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to research, education and information that benefit the meat and poultry industry. Originally created in 1944, the AMI Foundation today solicits grants from government, industry and other organization to fund a broad range of food safety, worker safety, nutrition and consumer information projects.

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