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Meridian Institute

Meat and Poultry Dialogue

External Project Site: merid.org/MeatandPoultryDialogue
Related: Agriculture and Food Systems

The Pew Charitable Trusts and Cargill enlisted Meridian Institute to design and facilitate a multi-stakeholder dialogue process to develop recommendations for updating the meat and poultry safety oversight system in the United States. The process was guided by a Steering Group composed of representatives from Pew and Cargill and others from the meat and poultry industry, retail food sector, consumer advocacy community, and academia.
Between October 2014 and February 2015, Meridian conducted an assessment based on 30 confidential interviews with key stakeholders from different industry sectors (i.e., beef, pork, and poultry) across the production chain (farm, slaughter, processing, further processing, and retail); consumer advocacy organizations; academics/scientists with relevant expertise; public health groups; trade associations; and other interested/affected parties. The interviews explored the substantive, political, economic, and technical issues underlying the meat and poultry oversight system; gathered preliminary suggestions about the kinds of policies that would improve public-health outcomes; identified possible members for the multi-stakeholder dialogue group; and created a foundation for a shared vision across the range of interests concerned with meat and poultry safety.

Based on the results of the assessment, the Steering Group decided to proceed with the dialogue. They identified 20 participants for the core Meat and Poultry Dialogue Group. The Dialogue Group met six times starting in April 2015 and ending in September 2016. Their discussions focused on major aspects of the production system for beef, pork, and poultry, including: the “pre-harvest” period (i.e., while animals are bred and raised on farms and feedlots); “harvest” (i.e., slaughter); processing and further processing; “post–plant-of-origin” supply chain (e.g., storage, distribution, retail, and foodservice); and risk communication to consumers and other stakeholders. The Dialogue Group also considered the roles of the public health and health care systems. Critical overarching issues discussed by the group included how best to assess risks and how to ensure all of the relevant data are collected, assessed, and shared.

The Dialogue Group developed and finalized a report containing a set of recommendations that suggested significant changes to the federal oversight system. The report was released to the public in June 2017. The report represents the consensus of the diverse set of interests in the Dialogue Group, and while individual members of the Dialogue Group may differ on particular recommendations, the group is in consensus on the entire set of recommendations as an integrated whole.

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