U.S. inspectors on Monday started using more sensitive tests to detect antibiotics in pork, part of a stepped-up effort to ensure meat safety after a government report last year suggested consumers might be at risk from harmful drug residues.
USDA officials say the new tests will expand the number of antibiotics they can detect in pork, and that the agency can withhold meat with too much antibiotic residue from the market. More contaminated meat "will consequently be removed from the food supply," said USDA spokesman Dirk Fillpot.
The new tests follow a report in March of 2010 by the USDA's inspector general citing "serious shortcomings" in the agency's inspection program. The report said the USDA allowed meat from certain slaughterhouses into the market even when it consistently found samples with excessive drug levels.
Inspection results from 2009, the latest available, showed the vast majority of cattle and pigs fell within the accepted limit for antibiotic residues.
Wall Street Journal/ United States.