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From: TSS ()
Subject: Public Citizen to USDA: What Are You Hiding?
Date: July 12, 2005 at 3:55 pm PST

PUBLIC CITIZEN MEDIA ALERT

July 12, 2005

Contact: Patty Lovera (202) 454-5132
Tony Corbo (202) 454-5131

Public Citizen to USDA: What Are You Hiding?

Consumer Group's FOIA Request for Mad Cow Documentation Still
Unanswered

Public Citizen today delivered a letter to Agriculture Secretary Mike
Johanns, demanding immediate action on a FOIA request on BSE reports
that has been languishing in USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service
(FSIS) for more than seven months, even though the agency acknowledges
that some records exist.

Prior to sending the letter, the consumer group today met with FSIS
officials to determine why it has yet to receive the non-compliance
reports the group requested on Dec. 23, 2004, specifically on the topic
of agency regulations for preventing BSE. The meeting ended with the
matter unresolved. The FOIA requested "all records pertaining to the
enforcement of BSE-related regulations in slaughter and processing
plants, including but not limited to non-compliance reports and other
correspondence between the agency and establishments."

The impetus for the original FOIA request was a letter sent to FSIS by
Mr. Charles Painter, Chairman of the National Joint Council of Food
Inspection Locals, on Dec. 8, 2004. In the letter, sent on behalf of
the NJC, Mr. Painter presented concerns about the removal of specified
risk materials (SRMs) from cattle and FSIS inspectors' ability to
enforce the export requirements for products destined for Mexico.
Instead of investigating the concerns, FSIS chose to open a misconduct
investigation on Mr. Painter on the grounds that he did not name the
plants (and consequently, FSIS inspectors) where violations occurred.

FSIS reported to Congress that it has a median of 73 workdays as its
response time to "complex" FOIA requests. Public Citizen's FOIA
request is now in its 116th day.

To read the letter to Secretary Johanns, go to
http://www.citizen.org/cmep/foodsafety/madcow/articles.cfm?ID=13686.
To read a timeline of events in the FOIA request, go to
http://www.citizen.org/cmep/foodsafety/madcow/articles.cfm?ID=13687.

###

Public Citizen is a national consumer advocacy organization with
150,000 members based in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit
www.citizen.org.


TSS



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