Pig Halves in a Slaughterhouse frotog/ThinkstockPhotos

Comment on the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System through April 2

Proposal supported by industry, but critics say changes risk food contamination.

On Jan. 19, 2018, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced it plans 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.

The New Swine Slaughter Inspection System:

  • Requires additional pathogen sampling for all swine slaughter establishments.
  • Allows innovation and flexibility to facilities slaughtering market hogs.
  • Increases the number of offline USDA inspection tasks, while continuing 100% FSIS carcass-by-carcass inspection.
  • Requires all swine slaughter establishments to implement appropriate measures to prevent contamination throughout the entire production process in their Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point plans, Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures or other prerequisite programs.

Comments on the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System continue through April 2. As of Feb. 1, 6,747 public comments have been received.

A sampling of comments:

“I strongly opposed the modernization of swine slaughter inspection rule . . .”

“The emphasis should always be on animal welfare and not on profits.”

“The proposed rule of Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection seems a step backward.”

To view the proposed rule and information on how to comment on the rule, visit the FSIS website at fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/regulations/federal-register/proposed-rules.

What’s are others saying about the proposal?

Thirty-five organizations, including Compassion Over Killing, Friends of the Earth and Waterkeeper Alliance, asked Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to reject the rules. The groups say the changes risk increased food contamination, worker injuries, animal abuse and water pollution. – Washington Post

USDA estimates there will be some costs involved with the new requirements with more than 57,000 hours of new paperwork. USDA also estimates the industrial efficiency improvements will outweigh the paperwork burdens, accounting for a $25 million net cost savings annually. – AmericanActionForum.org

A USDA proposal to remove maximum line speeds in pork-processing plants “will translate into even more illness and injury” among workers, according to the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health. – Safety and Health Magazine

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service’s announcement to propose to amend the federal meat inspection regulations to establish a new voluntary inspection system for market hog slaughter establishments was met by approval from the National Pork Producers Council and the North American Meat Institute. – National Hog Farmer

Rules like these have been proposed before, there was a pilot program back in 2013 to test a hands-off approach like this. A review from the Office of the Inspector General found an inadequate amount of oversight and reporting, and that the pilot program could thus not even be judged as effective or ineffective. – EcoWatch.com

The New Swine Slaughter Inspection System, which is based on learnings from a 15-year pilot program—aims to eliminate red tape by moving much of the inspection process off the line. Critics say the proposed rule amounts to a shift towards self-policing, reducing the number of federal inspectors on the line and outsourcing their work to meatpackers themselves. – The New Food Economy

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