While rates of Salmonella illnesses remain stubbornly high in this country, the United States is continuing to rely on a 60-year-old poultry inspection system developed under the Eisenhower Administration. Our knowledge of foodborne illness and poultry processing has improved significantly since then, and our food safety measures should too. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has examined new approaches to poultry safety through an extensive multi-year pilot project. In January 2012, FSIS put forward a modernization proposal based on this project because the data showed modernizing our procedures to combat invisible pathogens, rather than relying extensively on visual inspection, could prevent 5,000 foodborne illnesses per year. As a public health agency, it is crucial that we make use of 21st century science to reduce pathogens and save lives.
Some of the changes being proposed in the modernization plan concern some groups who misunderstand what FSIS is putting forward. In particular, some have claimed that the allowed speed increase for evisceration lines would lead to higher injury rates among poultry plant workers. But a newly released report provides evidence that this isn’t the case. Read more »
In response to a recent report about chicken served in the National School Lunch Program, I wanted to provide some clarification. Food safety is one of our highest priorities, and USDA is committed to ensuring that food served through the National School Lunch Program is both healthy and safe.
Schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program receive some of their foods through the USDA, and the rest is purchased on the commercial market. USDA is only involved in the purchases that are made through our program, and all of the food provided through USDA is 100 percent domestically grown and produced. Read more »
Cross posted from Food Safety News:
For the past 15 years, USDA conducted a pilot project to inform how we modernize our inspection process – all to ensure that meat and poultry is safe to eat. Today, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), released a report on the project, known as the HACCP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP), and how FSIS has relied on it to propose a modernized approach to inspecting poultry.
While an initial scan of the press coverage may lead you to believe that GAO discredits this proposal, that is not the case. GAO gave HIMP a thorough review and made just two recommendations, both of which FSIS is already working to fulfill.
GAO chose not to include some facts that also deserve public disclosure. FSIS put forward this proposal because data shows that a system like HIMP will prevent at least 5,000 more foodborne illnesses annually. The study that FSIS has conducted of HIMP provides an appropriate basis on which to judge the merits of this system. Approximately 10 years ago, FSIS asked an independent group of experts in poultry microbiology, statistical evaluation, poultry food safety and public health to evaluate our study. Read more »
FSIS Consumer Safety Inspectors (CSIs) Anthony Carson, Rick Toot, and Rosalinda Curb are just a few of the exemplary FSIS employees who work hard every day to protect public health and ensure the humane treatment of livestock presented for slaughter.
Anthony Carson, a CSI in the Dallas district, contributes greatly to enforcing humane handling policy at the cull cattle plant where he works.
The oldest son of a small-town veterinarian, Carson has worked with cattle for as long as he can remember. Carson’s father has been his greatest influence. “Dad gave me that love of animal husbandry, instilled in me a strong work ethic, and showed me the importance of constant self-improvement.” Read more »
The USDA’s Food Safety Discovery Zone has finished its spring 2012 tour, taking hands-on food safety lessons across the Southeast. Stopping in the smallest towns and big cities like Dallas, we were able to educate over 175,000 people on preventing foodborne illness. Real food safety experts who work in meat and poultry plants near each town—like veterinarians, investigators, and other FSIS personnel—came out to staff the events. FSIS Administrator Al Almanza even came to the last stop in San Antonio. Here are some of my favorite moments along the way: Read more »
In April of all months, “audit” is the last word most Americans want to hear but last month the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service was cheering because it passed a very meaningful audit by the Office of the Inspector General. According to the OIG, FSIS is appropriately managing meat and poultry slaughter establishments’ appeals of humane handling enforcement actions.
In December 2010, USDA’s Office of Food Safety proactively asked the OIG to determine whether FSIS addressed these types of appeals in a consistent, timely, and accurate manner. The OIG audit was extensive, covering humane handling appeals filed by the industry over a four-year period from January 2007 to December 2010. Not only did OIG publish positive findings; this is the second time in more than eight years that the OIG has published a final report for FSIS without any formal recommendations. Read more »