USDA Sets Plans to Modernize Swine Inspections

January 19, 2018 10:29 AM
New slaughter rules for the pork industry aim to improve detection of food-borne pathogens.

USDA is moving forward with plans to update swine slaughter inspections, with the “Modernization of Pork Slaughter Inspection” rule. The proposed change would amend the federal meat inspection regulations to establish a new voluntary inspection system, the New Swine Slaughter Inspection Service (NSIS), while also requiring additional pathogen sampling for all swine slaughter establishments.

Processors that opt into NSIS would increase the number of offline USDA inspection tasks, while continuing 100% Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) carcass-by-carcass inspections. The offline inspections would put inspectors in areas of the processing line that directly impact food safety.

“FSIS is excited to continue modernizing inspection practices, while allowing opportunities for industry to innovate and streamline food production,” said Carmen Rottenberg, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety. “There is no single technology or process to address the problem of food-borne illness, but when we focus our inspections on food safety-related tasks, we better protect American families.”

USDA inspectors would continue to examine each carcass, says Carmen Rottenberg, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety in the above audio report. But the new rule also allows for additional monitoring. (USDA)

USDA would also amend regulations for all swine slaughter facilities to implement control measures for enteric pathogens that cause foodborne illness. Each processor would be required to implement these measures into their Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans, Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures and other prerequisite programs, so USDA could document compliance on an on-going basis.

The proposed rules are similar to changes enacted in 2014 for poultry processors. Critics say the changes “gave companies too much control over food safety.”

However, pork producers say the changes will help efficiencies and encourage food safety advancements.

“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, Illinois. “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 is a 60-day comment period on the proposed rule, once published in the Federal Register. There is no date set for implementation.


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