USDA announces proposed rule to modernize swine inspection
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has announced its continued effort to modernize inspection systems through science-based approaches to food safety. USDA is proposing to amend the federal meat inspection regulations to establish a new voluntary inspection system for market hog slaughter establishments called the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System (NSIS), while also requiring additional pathogen sampling for all swine slaughter establishments.
The proposed rule also allows innovation and flexibility to establishments that are slaughtering market hogs. Market hogs are uniform, healthy, young animals that can be slaughtered and processed in this modernized system more efficiently and effectively with enhanced process control.
For market hog establishments that opt into NSIS, the proposed rule would increase the number of offline USDA inspection tasks, while continuing 100% FSIS carcass-by-carcass inspection. These offline inspection tasks place inspectors in areas of the production process where they can perform critical tasks that have direct impact on food safety.
“FSIS is excited to continue modernizing inspection practices, while allowing opportunities for industry to innovate and streamline food production,” said Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Carmen Rottenberg. “There is no single technology or process to address the problem of foodborne illness, but when we focus our inspections on food safety-related tasks, we better protect American families.”
In this proposal, USDA would also amend the regulations that apply to all establishments that slaughter swine. The new requirements would ensure that establishments implement measures to control enteric pathogens that can cause foodborne illness. Specifically, all swine slaughter establishments would be required to implement appropriate measures to prevent contamination throughout the entire production process in their Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans, Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (Sanitation SOPs), or other prerequisite programs. The new requirements would ensure that both USDA and the establishment have the documentation they need to verify the effectiveness of these measures on an ongoing basis.
There will be a 60-day period for comment once the rule is published in the Federal Register.
To view the proposed rule and information on how to comment on the rule, visit the FSIS website at fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/c17775a2-fd1f-4c11-b9d2-5992741b0e94/2016-0017.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.
The North American Meat Institute has released the following statement about the proposal, from NAMI CEO Barry Carpenter: “While we will thoroughly review the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS) newly published proposal to amend the pork inspection regulations before providing substantive comments to the agency, the North American Meat Institute has long supported adopting science based inspection models that better utilize government resources while maintaining strong food safety standards. The proposed New Swine Slaughter Inspection System has been used as a pilot project in five pork plants for 15 years, and it has proven to be a strong inspection model. Those five pilot plants have produced millions of pounds of safe pork. We look forward to working with the agency as it develops a final rule that maintains a strong level of food safety in the most efficient manner.”
Sources: FSIS, NAMI