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NEW YORK - The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced it will not close meat processing plants that violate its salmonella safety standard, The Wall Street Journal reported today.
The announcement comes after a federal appeals court decision that the department's guideline was not scientifically based and therefore couldn't be used as an indication of other more dangerous agents in meat products, the newspaper said in its online edition.
USDA used the salmonella standard in 1999 to close Dallas, Texas-based Supreme Beef Processors Inc. after the company failed tests for salmonella several times.
The National Food Processors Association has promised to fight legislative moves to punish meat and poultry plants that fail to satisfy salmonella safety standards set by the USDA. The association says while it generally supports the USDA's bacteria testing program, failure to meet the standard should not be used by the USDA to withdraw federal meat inspectors and, in effect, close down a plant.