USDA proposes new poultry inspection process

January 23, 2012

In a shift that will save money for businesses and taxpayers while improving food safety, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is proposing a modernization of young chicken and turkey slaughter inspection in the United States by focusing FSIS inspection resources on the areas of the poultry production system that pose the greatest risk to food safety.

“The modernization plan will protect public health, improve the efficiency of poultry inspections in the U.S., and reduce spending,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The new inspection system will reduce the risk of foodborne illness by focusing FSIS inspection activities on those tasks that advance our core mission of food safety. By revising current procedures and removing outdated regulatory requirements that do not help combat foodborne illness, the result will be a more efficient and effective use of taxpayer dollars.”

Currently, some FSIS employees in poultry establishments perform several activities that are unrelated to food safety, such as identifying visual defects like bruising, while others conduct the critical inspection activities. Under the proposed plan, all FSIS inspection activities will focus on critical food safety tasks to ensure that agency resources are tied directly to protecting public health and reducing foodborne illnesses. Additionally, some outdated regulatory requirements are being removed and replaced with more flexible and effective testing and process control requirements. Finally, all poultry establishments will now have to ensure that their procedures prevent contamination in the production process and provide supporting data to FSIS personnel.

By focusing inspectors only on the areas that are crucial to food safety, these changes will not only enhance consumer safety but will improve efficiency, saving taxpayers more than $90 million over three years and lower production costs at least $256.6 million per year.

Press release