In this file:
· Unions seek to halt pork processing rule
· New Voluntary Performance Standards for Pork Plants
Unions seek to halt pork processing rule
David Pitt , Associated Press
via Journal-Courier (IL) - October 31, 2019
The union representing workers at pork processing plants has sued the federal government to challenge a new rule that allows companies to set line speeds and turn over more food safety tasks to company employees.
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union and local unions in Minnesota, Iowa and Kansas joined with nonprofit consumer advocacy group Public Citizen to file the lawsuit in federal court in Minneapolis.
The lawsuit alleges that the new rule announced in September by the U.S. Department of Agriculture violates the Administrative Procedure Act because it isn’t backed by reasoned decision-making and should be set aside.
A spokeswoman for the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.
UFCW International President Marc Perrone said there is no evidence that line speed increases can be done in a manner that ensures food and worker safety.
“Increasing pork plant line speeds not only is a reckless giveaway to giant corporations, it will put thousands of workers in harm’s way,” he said.
Swine slaughter workers regularly have reported extreme pressure to work as quickly as possible, which increases the risk of knife injuries, knee, back, shoulder and neck traumas, and repetitive motion injuries including carpal tunnel syndrome, the union said...
New Voluntary Performance Standards for Pork Plants
BY U.S. Animal Health Association
via KTIC (NE) - October 31, 2019
Meat processing has come a long way since the early 1900s, when packing plants were graphically depicted in Upton Sinclair’s novel, The Jungle. Since that time, meat inspectors, safety precautions for workers, the use of better technology and higher food-safety standards have arguably made the U.S. food supply the safest in the world. However, there is always room for improvement, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) intends to propose new, voluntary performance standards for pork.
The final rule for the Modernized Hog Slaughter Plan was published October 1, and one of its goals is to align hog slaughter inspection with hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) principles. It will also allow market hog slaughter establishments to operation under the New Swine Inspection System (NSIS).
Under the plan, all swine slaughter establishments must develop written sanitary dressing plans and implement microbial sampling to monitor process control. Pork sampling will increase in FY2020 and inspectors will stop testing for STEC. However, FSIS will partner with Agricultural Research Service to study STEC in pork.
“Modernization moves inspection away from the traditional control and command approach,” said Captain Kis Robertson Hale, DVM, with the U.S. Public Health Service post at FSIS, during the 2019 annual meeting of the U.S. Animal Health Association this week. Hale explained that under the new rule, plant employees will do two points of sampling, one at the beginning and one at the end, giving plants the options for indicator product sampling.
The biggest thing that has been a source of question is the new swine inspection system.
NSIS requirements for sorting state that establishment personnel are responsible for sorting and removing unfit animals before ante mortem inspection, as well as for identifying and trimming defects on carcasses and parts before postmortem inspection. FSIS will continue to do all the inspections it has done in the past, but sorting will be the responsibility of establishment personnel.
“It shifts agency resources so we can do inspections more efficiently,” Hale said.
Establishment personal will be responsible for: Identifying with a unique tag, tattoo, or similar device animals or carcasses that have been sorted or removed for disposal prior to inspection, and; developing, implementing and maintaining written procedures in its HACCP system to ensure unfit animals or carcasses are properly disposed.
Plants will determine line speed ...