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Bio: Kit Foshee

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Kit Foshee is the former Corporate Quality Assurance Manager at the nation’s leading producer of lean boneless beef, Beef Products, Inc. (BPI). Foshee sought GAP’s help in bringing attention to his concerns that he was terminated for refusing to participate in his company’s knowing misrepresentation of microbial data to the USDA and false claims made to customers about product safety.

As a result of an op-ed initiated by GAP, Foshee was contacted by both The New York Times and USA Today. The Times published two front-page articles, in part based on interviews conducted with Foshee. The first piece described BPI’s use of ammoniated beef product in the context of the larger problems facing U.S. food safety. The second article was an exposé that was fully devoted to a whistleblower's disclosures about BPI’s unpalatable and ineffective pathogen reduction process.

Foshee later participated as a panelist at the GAP-sponsored webcast, Anyone Can Whistle, held at the Paley Center for the Media in New York on February 17, 2010.

Background

Over the course of his 10 years of employment with BPI, Foshee alleges he witnessed the misrepresentation of microbial data to the USDA, and false claims made to its processor customers about mixing a small amount of BPI-treated beef into their own ground beef product would eliminate deadly pathogens, such as E. coli O157:H7. With no basis in  science, these claims pose troubling implications to the food supply.

Foshee provided GAP with scientific documentation which he claims establishes that BPI misrepresented the microbial reduction impact of its ammoniation process. BPI’s treated meat ended up in upwards of 80% of the hamburgers consumed in the United States, including at fast-food restaurants and the national school lunch program.

The Danger

Kit Foshee read the scientific studies that BPI touted as supporting its claims for its ammoniation process, but he knew that blending BPI product with other ground beef would not have any statistically significant antimicrobial reduction effect. Consequently, he refused to validate related BPI claims to customers. Foshee believes that his refusal to support BPI’s claims was the cause of his termination in 2001. Unfortunately, by the time he came to GAP, the statute of limitations on any legal claim he could bring had expired; nonetheless, GAP was able to assist him in bringing national attention to the dangers of microbial contamination and to shine a light on BPI’s questionable representations.