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Americans respond positively to government's project



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Media Release John Anderson T

AMERICANS RESPOND POSITIVELY TO GOVERNMENT'S PROJECT 2 MEAT INSPECTION SYSTEM

DPIE98/5A 5th February, 1998

The Australian Government's 'Project 2' proposal for company-based inspection in export meat establishments has been accepted in principle by United States authorities.

The breakthrough came following personal discussions between Primary Industries & Energy Minister, John Anderson, the Secretary of the US Department of Agriculture, Dan Glickman and members of the US House Agriculture Committee.

" I am pleased to say that the Americans have charted a path forward for Project 2 and I expect at least four trial plants to come on line in the near future," Mr Anderson said.

" Like Australia, the U.S. is moving towards the adoption of quality assurance based food safety controls and has indicated it intends to conduct its own trials in food processing establishments.

" The US Food Safety and Inspection Service has agreed to a way forward for the trial, once technical details on performance standards have been finalised, in conjunction with the Australian Quarantine & Inspection Service(AQIS).

Mr. Anderson said he was particularly pleased that the U.S. had expressed a desire to work in collaboration with AQIS to establish these performance standards.

" Innovations already introduced as part of the Government's meat inspection reform program mean that the performance standards required by the US can be made easily.

" At the last election I promised reform would really begin to happen, after years of inaction by the previous Government. The program is now financially viable, workplace reform has been introduced, and technical standards have been dramatically improved.

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Parliament House. Canberra ACT 2600 Tel: (061 277 7520 F->v (06) 7 7 ? 4 1 an

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"The latest figures from the US Department of Agriculture reflect thcfse achievements, with a 99.75 per cent acceptance rate of Australian meat — the best figure for 10 years, and the highest acceptance rate of any country

exporting meat to the United States."

Australia has been progressively testing the Project 2 inspection model at two export registered establishments since October last year. The results from tKese plants confirm that meat safety and regulatory compliance standards have risen consistently from the levels delivered by the traditional visual inspection system.

Media contacts: Robert Haynes M r Anderson's office (02) 6277 7520 Mobile: 0419493511. Brian Macdonald, AQ IS (02) 6272 3594 .