The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today 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 harvesting market hogs. Market hogs are uniform, healthy, young animals that can be harvested 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 percent 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 also would amend the regulations that apply to all establishments that harvest swine. The new requirements would ensure that establishments implement measures to control enteric pathogens that can cause foodborne illness. Specifically, all swine packing 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.
The decision is strongly supported by the National Pork Producers Council.
“We support the USDA’s decision to advance HIMP as it introduces new pork production efficiencies while encouraging the deployment of new food safety technologies in packing plants,” said NPPC President Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Ill. “The pilot program yielded very positive results; expanding the program is another step forward in the industry’s ongoing focus on continuous improvement of food safety and cost efficiency.”
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.