In this file:
· Pork slaughter rules give companies more food safety tasks
· CSPI: The USDA Publishes Final Rule to Deregulate Meat Inspection, Jeopardizing Food Safety
· USDA Modernizes Swine Slaughter Inspection for the First Time in Over 50 Years
· NPPC Welcomes New Swine Inspection System, 'Reflecting a 21st Century Industry'
· U.S. worker, food-safety advocates sound alarm over new hog slaughter rules
Pork slaughter rules give companies more food safety tasks
The Associated Press
via Star Tribune (MN) - September 17, 2019
DES MOINES, Iowa — The federal government has finalized rules for most U.S. pork processing plants that remove limits on the speed of production lines and place more animal inspection and food safety tasks with company employees.
The pork industry says the first significant pork processing rule changes in 50 years were long overdue. Officials applauded the new regulatory freedom finalized Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Advocacy groups for workers, animals, consumers and the environment say the changes will endanger workers, increase suffering for pigs and threaten the food supply.
USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue says the change ensures food safety while eliminating outdated rules...
The USDA Publishes Final Rule to Deregulate Meat Inspection, Jeopardizing Food Safety
Statement of CSPI Deputy Director of Regulatory Affairs Sarah Sorscher
Source: Center For Science In The Public Interest (CSPI)
September 17, 2019
Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a final regulation that privatizes and deregulates swine slaughter inspection, ignoring repeated calls by food safety, labor and animal welfare groups to include better safeguards for consumers, workers, and animals.
Not only does the rule transfer work once performed by USDA inspectors to private slaughterhouse employees and allow slaughter lines to run at unlimited speeds, the agency is also pressing forward without a commitment to issue new federal testing standards for monitoring Salmonella or other pathogens in meat.
Over 83,000 individuals and groups commented on the initial rule proposed by the Trump Administration in January 2018. Overwhelmingly, the public was critical of the rule, telling the USDA not to move forward with plans to privatize and deregulate meat inspection. Yet the agency has declined to adopt key requests, including requests by CSPI and other food safety advocates to set in place federal standards for testing pathogen contamination in pork.
Rather than implement Salmonella performance standards in pork, the agency states in the final rule that it will “decide in 2019 whether to develop new pathogen performance standards” for these products. In the meantime, the agency will be allowing the swine slaughter industry to develop its own tests and then grade itself on microbiological contamination.
The USDA privatized poultry inspection under the Obama Administration. Yet in that case, the USDA responded to stakeholder concerns by maintaining slaughter line speed caps. The agency also implemented specific performance standards for testing Salmonella and Campylobacter in poultry prior to privatizing poultry. These critical protections are lacking in the swine rule.
The Office of the Inspector General is currently undertaking an investigation to determine if the USDA inappropriately concealed worker safety data during the rulemaking. We urge Congress to block implementation of the final rule until that investigation is complete and the agency has identified adequate measures to prevent the rule from negatively impacting food safety, worker health, and animal welfare.
The Centers for Disease Control has estimated that over 500,000 people become ill and 82 die each year from foodborne illness attributable to pork...
USDA Modernizes Swine Slaughter Inspection for the First Time in Over 50 Years
Source: USDA Office of Communications
Sep 17, 2019
WASHINGTON, September 17, 2019 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced a final rule to modernize swine slaughter inspection and bring it into the 21st century. For the first time in more than five decades, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is modernizing inspection at market hog slaughter establishments with a goal of protecting public health while allowing for food safety innovations.
“This regulatory change allows us to ensure food safety while eliminating outdated rules and allowing for companies to innovate,” Secretary Sonny Perdue said. “The final rule is the culmination of a science-based and data-driven rule making process which builds on the food safety improvements made in 1997, when USDA introduced a system of preventive controls for industry. With this rule, FSIS will finally begin full implementation of that program in swine establishments.”
The final rule has new requirements for microbial testing that apply to all swine slaughterhouses to demonstrate that they are controlling for pathogens throughout the slaughter system. Additionally, FSIS is amending its meat inspection regulations to establish a new inspection system for market hog establishments called the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System (NSIS).
In the final rule, FSIS amends the regulations to require all swine slaughter establishments to develop written sanitary dressing plans and implement microbial sampling to monitor process control for enteric pathogens that can cause foodborne illness. The final rule also allows market hog establishments to choose if they will operate under NSIS or continue to operate under traditional inspection.
FSIS will continue to conduct 100% inspection of animals before slaughter and 100% carcass-by-carcass inspection, as mandated by Congress. FSIS inspectors will also retain the authority to stop or slow the line as necessary to ensure that food safety and inspection are achieved. Under the NSIS, FSIS offline inspectors will conduct more food safety and humane handling verification tasks to protect the food supply and animal welfare.
To view the final rule, visit the FSIS website at:
NPPC Welcomes New Swine Inspection System, 'Reflecting a 21st Century Industry'
Sept 17, 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 17, 2019 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) finalized today its New Swine Inspection System (NSIS).
"We applaud the USDA for introducing a new inspection system that incentivizes investment in new technologies while ensuring a safe supply of wholesome American pork," said National Pork Producers Council President David Herring, a producer from Lillington, N.C. "The U.S. pork production system is the envy of the world because we continuously adopt new practices and technologies, while enhancing safety, quality and consistency. This new inspection system codifies the advancements we have made into law, reflecting a 21st century industry."
The NSIS, which has been piloted at five pork processing plants, was developed over many years of research and evaluation and recently received the endorsement of the National Association of Federal Veterinarians, highlighting the strong science-based approach used in designing the program.
"The U.S. industry has long been a global leader in offering the highest quality, safest and most affordable pork to consumers here at home and abroad. We are proud of our record and welcome this program to further modernize our production process," added Herring.
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NPPC is the global voice for the U.S. pork industry, protecting the livelihoods of America's 60,000 pork producers, who abide by ethical principles in caring for their animals, in protecting the environment and public health and in providing safe, wholesome, nutritious pork products to consumers worldwide. For more information, visit www.nppc.org.
U.S. worker, food-safety advocates sound alarm over new hog slaughter rules
Tom Polansek, Reuters
via CNBC - Sept 17, 2019
CHICAGO, Sept 17 (Reuters) - U.S. food safety and the health of plant workers will be at risk from new federal rules that allow meat companies to slaughter hogs as fast as they want and shift the role of government inspectors, food and environmental advocates said on Tuesday.
The warnings about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s first update of inspection procedures at hog slaughterhouses in more than 50 years come after several high-profile recalls in the meat sector.
The USDA earlier on Tuesday published a final version of rules that will eliminate limits on how fast companies such as Tyson Foods, Hormel Foods and WH Group’s Smithfield Foods can slaughter pigs - a change long sought by meatpackers.
The companies can instead determine their own slaughter speeds based on their ability to prevent fecal contamination and minimize bacteria, according to the rules.
Packers can also have employees, rather than USDA workers, remove meat with certain defects from the slaughtering process. Government inspectors will continue to check all live animals before they are killed as well as meat products after slaughter.
The changes could contribute to food contamination, said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of advocacy group Food & Water Watch.
“The implementation of the rule will result in the fox guarding the henhouse,” Hauter said.
Tyson Foods, the biggest U.S. meat producer, slowed chicken processing to protect food safety this year after it recalled millions of pounds of poultry products over concerns they contained extraneous materials like rubber and metal.
Tyson, Hormel and Smithfield did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the USDA’s new rules. The North American Meat Institute, which represents the packers, said companies will continue to produce safe pork.
Slower processing leads to higher costs for companies and limits profits, but advocates say extra caution protects workers.
“Increasing pork plant line speeds is a reckless corporate giveaway that would put thousands of workers in harm’s way as they are forced to meet impossible demands,” said Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents slaughterhouse employees.
The USDA ran a pilot program for the new rules that was announced in 1997...