FSIS says critics wrong about new pork slaughter rule

The USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service has finalized its rule on swine slaughter inspection and says it will modernize the industry and improve food safety.

Deputy Undersecretary Mindy Brashears tells Brownfield Ag News that contrary to critics of the rule – there will be NO reduction in public health veterinarians, “We are not allowing plant employees to do any inspections. WE are doing all the inspection,” adding, “We will no longer have food inspectors on the line – we will have Consumer Safety Inspectors. These inspectors have more experience, more training, more education, and basically, more food safety education.”

Patty Lovera with Food and Water Watch insists that there will be fewer USDA inspectors in pork plants under the rule and employees will be given those duties, “That’s a loss for consumer protection and you know, we think that the law says that the USDA should be doing this inspection. Not letting company employees inspect themselves.”

Lovera also tells Brownfield they’ve been in poultry and pork plants in those USDA pilot programs and contamination was worse than in traditional plants and have published their findings on their website.

Brashears questions that assessment, telling Brownfield, “I’m not aware of any research study that’s been conducted in poultry plants or pork plants by Food & Water Watch and if they have done that they  have not presented any data to US,” adding, “You know, we have access to ALL the plants and in 2010 we did a salmonella baseline across the entire industry and found that our HIMP plants, those in the system, had a salmonella prevalence rate of less than 1%, whereas those not in the system was over 3%. And that was statistically different.”

Brashears says their data shows the opposite. And she says while line speed limits WILL be removed, their studies show no harm to workers or animals or food safety. Plants can opt into the rule but it’s not mandatory.

Interview with Deputy Secretary Mindy Brashears
Interview with Patty Lovera

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