Consumers rightly expect that the products they purchase are of high quality. This is especially true for foods. Just as there are standards for quality in the manufacture of automobiles, there are standards of quality for animal- derived foods (meat, milk and eggs). The two most visible food safety issues related to animal-derived foods are microbial and chemical contaminants. Safety is as important for foods as it is for automobiles, and thus strict safety standards are set for foods. Unlike automobiles which are manufactured in a limited number of factories, food animal production is widely distributed in thousands of locations, and is more difficult to monitor. Thus, voluntary producer quality assurance programs are very important.
Because food safety is a visible and controversial consumer issue, and safety concerns affect the marketing of animal-derived foods, responsible producers are expanding and publicizing their quality assurance programs. In addition, since 1982, the USDA Extension Service has been involved in an educational/service project to further enhance the safety of animal-derived foods. The Residue Avoidance Program (RAP), which was initially founded by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), targeted the area of chemical residues. The aim of the RAP was to reduce the rate of animal residue violations through education, rather than enforcement. As part of the RAP, the Food Animal Residue Avoidance & Depletion Program (FARAD) program was developed by pharmacologists and toxicologists at the University of California, Davis, University of Florida, North Carolina State University and the University of Illinois.