The recent multistate outbreak of Salmonella has served as yet another reminder of the importance of a modern, effective food safety system in the United States. That’s why USDA has undertaken a comprehensive effort to modernize poultry slaughter inspection in ways that will reduce the risk for American families.
A recent story in the Washington Post shared claims by some that this new effort would compromise humane handling. The fact is, this proposal will better position our inspectors to ensure humane handling standards are being met – all while protecting American families from illness caused by Salmonella and Campylobacter.
USDA has long been committed to humane handling practices in slaughter and processing facilities. The Food Safety Inspection Service already provides training for all FSIS inspectors to observe alleged violations of humane handling standards and take action to address problems in slaughter and processing facilities. If a problem recurs, inspectors are trained to stop the plant from operating. To be clear, nothing different would happen under the modernized system. In fact, FSIS inspection personnel would be more likely to observe a problem if one were to occur.
Our record on humane handling over the past four years speaks for itself. The Agency has systematically improved humane handling policies and regulations, as well as enforcement. We’re proud of this record and FSIS will continue to improve and build upon our efforts to ensure humane handling. We would not put forward a proposal that would undermine those efforts.
The modernized system being developed by USDA would make food safer without compromising humane handling. Experts agree that it would significantly reduce foodborne illnesses – reducing dangerous pathogens like Salmonella to protect American families. Improving America’s food inspection system will do just that, and USDA is committed to undertaking this effort in a way that ensures even stronger humane handling measures in the future.