January 16, 2018

USDA Sends HIMP Poultry Rule to OMB

The USDA has submitted a draft final version of the HAACP Based Models Project (HIMP), the Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection Rule to the Office of Management and Budget today. That rule has been criticized from everyone from food safety advocates to worker’s unions.

Food & Water Watch does not like this rule, which would reduce the number of USDA inspectors in poultry slaughter plants and replace them with company employees. Line speeds for poultry carcass inspections will be increased to 175 birds per minute, which critics claim is much too fast for any reasonable inspection. The industry will gain at least $260 million every year because of fewer regulations, increased production, and no guarantees of food safety. And there is concern that employees may not be as critical of problems as public health officials would be.

Only one USDA inspector will be on each slaughter line, and he/she will have to inspect three carcasses each second. Further, the companies will have the responsibility for developing their own food safety standards with no input from the government. There will be no enforceable performance standards to decrease pathogen loads on poultry, according to Food & Water Watch.

And, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report in August 2013 that evaluated a HIMP pilot project. The GAO conclusion was that the pilot plant “raised questions about the validity of FSIS’ conclusion that an inspection system based on the pilot project would ensure equivalent, if not better, levels of food safety and quality than currently provided at plants not in the pilot program.”

Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter said in a statement, “USDA can’t be allowed to rush this rule through without thorough consideration. If we allow this controversial rule in poultry, beef and pork are next. We can’t roll back our meat inspection system if we want to continue to have a safe food supply, and USDA needs to hear that from stakeholders.”

Food & Water Watch wants the Obama Administration to publish the revised rule and open it up for public comment for the next 120 days. The USDA refused to do this when the rule was proposed.

 

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