February 17, 2020

Center For Food Safety Challenges New Swine Inspection System

Center for Food Safety (CFS) is challenging the USDA’s new swine inspection program with a lawsuit¬†filed earlier this month. That agency, along with Food & Water Watch, is suing the USDA, stating that new rules about pork safety inspection in slaughter plants are dangerous for employees, consumers, and the animals themselves.

Center For Food Safety Challenges New Swine Inspection System

The New Swine Inspection System (NSIS) lets corporation employees inspect the carcasses themselves instead of using federal inspectors, and also surrenders federal control over removing contamination from carcasses “without any minimum training requirements for slaughter-plant employees,” according to CFS. This is a reversal to the swine slaughter inspection system that was put in place in the United States in 1906, when the Pure Food and Drug Act was signed into law. The law required that meat inspectors examine every animal for conditions such as bacterial contamination and septicemia before and after slaughter.

And, the New Swine Inspection System Rules lift limits on slaughter-line speeds, meaning that persons inspecting the carcasses have very little time to look at each one. This change is similar to HIMP, the USDA’s HACCP-based Inspection Models Project that was first put into place in chicken slaughterhouses. That policy change was objected to as well by consumer watchdog groups and food safety agencies.

The lawsuit is challenging the new NSIS rules and states that “USDA is acting beyond its authority in essentially leaving inspection up to slaughter companies.” The lawsuit also states that these new rules are contrary to the Federal Meat Inspection Act.

Ryan Talbott, Staff Attorney for CFS said in a statement, “Reducing the number of trained federal inspectors and increasing line speeds is a recipe for disaster. USDA has an obligation to protect the health and welfare of consumers. USDA cannot do that when it takes a back seat and lets the slaughter plants largely regulate themselves.”

This is the fourth action challenging NSIS. Food & Water Watch has filed a separate lawsuit over a Freedom of Information Act. And two other groups have challenged the rules over concern about plant employee safety and inhumane treatment of animals.

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