Proposed Rule to Modernize Poultry Slaughter Inspection

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WASHINGTON—USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is proposing a modernization of young chicken and turkey slaughter inspection in the United States by focusing FSIS inspection resources on the areas of the poultry production system that pose the greatest risk to food safety.

"The new inspection system will reduce the risk of foodborne illness by focusing FSIS inspection activities on those tasks that advance our core mission of food safety. By revising current procedures and removing outdated regulatory requirements that do not help combat foodborne illness, the result will be a more efficient and effective use of taxpayer dollars," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Under the proposed plan, all FSIS inspection activities will focus on critical food safety tasks to ensure agency resources are tied directly to protecting public health and reducing foodborne illnesses. Some outdated regulatory requirements also are being removed and replaced with more flexible and effective testing and process control requirements. All poultry establishments will be required to ensure their procedures prevent contamination in the production process and provide supporting data to FSIS personnel.

By focusing inspectors only on the areas that are crucial to food safety, the changes not only will enhance consumer safety but will improve efficiency saving taxpayers more than $90 million over three years and lower production costs at least $256.6 million per year.

FSIS will continue to conduct on-line carcass-by-carcass inspection as mandated by law. The  rule will allow FSIS personnel to conduct a more efficient carcass-by-carcass inspection with agency resources focused on more effective food-safety measures. Inspection activities conducted off the evisceration line include pathogen sampling, and verifying that establishments are maintaining sanitary conditions and controlling food safety hazards at critical points in the production process.

The proposal was posted today on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/regulations_&_policies/Proposed_Rules/index.asp and will publish in the Federal Register. The comment period will end 90 days after the proposal publishes in the Federal Register and must be submitted at www.regulations.gov or by mail to USDA, FSIS, OPPD, RIMD, Docket Clearance Unit, Patriots Plaza III, Room 8-164, 355 E St., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-3221.

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