Did it take a crisis to get the poultry industry to prepare for disaster?
- US Poultry & Egg Association (USPOULTRY) released guidelines for the industry to help producers better plan and prepare for their response to emergencies.
- Last year's massive bird flu outbreak prompted the industry to provide processors with these guidelines.
- The guidelines are available in CD-ROM format, and "explains the purpose of incident response planning, gives a general outline of the ICS (Incident Command System) and includes a template for building an incident management team to help plan and track actions during an emergency incident," Meat + Poultry reported.
The Incident Command System (ICS) standardizes and structures a response plan for natural disasters, disease outbreaks and other crises. While all government agencies must use it, the private sector doesn't have to. But when the bird flu outbreak began wiping out the country's poultry supply, companies were left scrambling as sales and profits plunged.
These guidelines could be a critical tool for the industry, but it's unclear why it took so long for USPOULTRY to release them. The bird flu epidemic ended well over a year ago, and poultry producers have already bounced back and could have developed their own crisis plans in the aftermath. These resources may offer something producers don't already have in their plans or may better standardize the industry's approach. But they may also be too little too late and not worth the investment.
It also shouldn't necessarily take an emergency as massive as last year's bird flu outbreak for the industry to mobilize and prepare for potential disasters. Industry guidelines often seem to be more reactive than proactive. The FDA released FSMA guidelines in response to food pathogen outbreaks and is now working on a potential definition for the term "natural" after a slew of lawsuits centered around it.
The 2015 bird flu outbreak led to the deaths of 48 million birds nationwide and contracted the supply of eggs and turkeys. Egg prices soared and demand faltered as manufacturers and consumers cut back their use or found alternatives.
- Meat + Poultry USPOULTRY resource to aid emergency preparedness