USDA Seeks to Advance “Modernization of Pork Slaughter” Rule
As our readership is well aware, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) regulates the production of meat, poultry, and egg products. To help achieve its enumerated food safety goals, FSIS is continuously seeking to develop and promote best practices at slaughter that may be used to prevent, eliminate, or reduce levels of potential microbiological contamination of the food products subject to its jurisdiction. To this end, in 2014, FSIS published a final rule called the “Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection” (79 FR 49566, Aug. 21, 2014) which requires all poultry slaughter establishments, except for establishments that slaughter ratites, to develop, implement, and maintain written procedures to prevent contamination of carcasses and parts by enteric pathogens and fecal material throughout the entire slaughter and dressing operation (9 CFR 381.65(g)). In particular, under the rule, the Agency requires poultry companies to implement prophylactic measures to prevent against Salmonella and Campylobacter contamination, as opposed to simply addressing contamination after it occurs. A cornerstone of the rule is the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) Inspection Model Project (HIMP).
Last week, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) reported that FSIS is seeking to move forward with a similar rule for pork – a “Modernization of Pork Slaughter” rule. NPPC reports that the regulation would increase efficiency and effectiveness of the federal inspection process and allow for the rapid adoption of new food safety technologies in pork slaughter. Such a rule could also potentially lead to an increase in U.S. hog slaughter capacity. Similar to the modernization of poultry inspection rule, the pork version of the rule would involve the implementation of HIMPas an option for hog companies which would effectively facilitate the streamlining of the Agency’s inspection resources, allowing FSIS to partner with the pork industry in a more efficient and effective manner to ensure that safe products are entering the food supply. Certain food safety responsibilities would be shifted from federal inspectors to packing plant workers and could thus lead to faster pork production lines. Currently, five U.S. pork packing plants are participating in HIMP pilot projects; enactment of a modernization rule would make the system available to all pork packers.
Given that industry supports a Modernization of Pork Slaughter rule, we expect that FSIS will be taking steps to roll out a proposed rule in the near future.