USDA Publishes Final Rule to “Modernize” Pork Inspection
As we have previously covered on this blog, on February 1, 2018, FSIS put forward a proposed rule to establish a voluntary, opt-in inspection system for market hog slaughter establishments, called the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System (NSIS). The proposal had received pushback from consumer groups and several media outlets, with FSIS defending its proposal in a direct response to a Washington Post article earlier this year.
On September 17, 2019, FSIS released the final rule establishing the NSIS. Under the final rule, hog slaughter plants may voluntarily join a new inspection system whereby establishment personnel would be responsible for sorting and removing unfit animals and identifying defects before FSIS inspection. FSIS online inspectors would be reduced to a maximum of three per line per shift. The rule also revokes maximum line speeds in processing plants.
In a press release, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue stated: “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.”