Factories that opt into the recommended New Swine Slaughter Inspection System (NSIS) would see the number of offline USDA inspections rise and an onus on implementing measures to control enteric pathogens that can cause foodborne illness.
Under the plans, the model would be expanded from five current pilot locations to full-scale implementation.
“The North American Meat Institute has long supported adopting science based inspection models that better utilise government resources while maintaining strong food safety standards,” said North American Meat Institute president and CEO Barry Carpenter.
“The proposed New Swine Slaughter Inspection System has been used as a pilot project in five pork plants for 15 years, and it has proven to be a strong inspection model. Those five pilot plants have produced millions of pounds of safe pork. We look forward to working with the agency as it develops a final rule that maintains a strong level of food safety in the most efficient manner.”
National Pork Producers Council president Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Illinois, also welcomed the decision.
“The pilot program yielded very positive results; expanding the program is another step forward in the industry’s ongoing focus on continuous improvement of food safety and cost efficiency.”
Acting deputy under-secretary for food safety Carmen Rottenberg said the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service was excited to “continue modernising inspection practices, while allowing opportunities for industry to innovate and streamline food production”.
“There is no single technology or process to address the problem of foodborne illness, but when we focus our inspections on food safety-related tasks, we better protect American families,” she added.
According to the USDA, there will be a 60-day period for comment once the rule is published in the Federal Register.