The passed amendment prohibits the USDA specifically from implementing a controversial proposal to deregulate the inspection of hog slaughter plants until the USDA’s Office of Inspector General reviews the data used to develop the proposed rule and the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service addresses the issues found by the OIG.
FSIS proposed a rule on February 1, 2018, to create the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System, expanding upon a pilot program taking place in 5 plants that have experimented with a privatized inspection model since 1998. In those pilot plants, the number of FSIS inspectors is reduced and their jobs are performed by company employees. The agency is expected to finalize the rule soon.
The proposed rule would not only reduce the number of trained FSIS inspections on hog slaughter lines, but also would also remove the cap on the line speed in hog slaughter facilities from the current maximum of 1106 hogs per hour.
Food & Water Watch has been monitoring the operations of the pilot plants for nearly two decades. What we have found is that the privatized inspection in those pilot plants has not enhanced food safety, and in many cases, those plants perform worse than plants that have been receiving full FSIS inspection.
In May 2013, the USDA Office of Inspector General published a scathing audit report of FSIS inspection activities in swine slaughter facilities in which it observed “We... found FSIS could not determine whether the goals of a pilot program …were met because FSIS did not adequately oversee the program. In the 15 years since the program’s inception, FSIS did not critically assess whether the new inspection process had measurably improved food safety at each (pilot) plant, a key goal of the program.”
Food & Water Watch urges the passage of this amendment when the FY 2020 appropriations bill reaches the House floor, and encourages the Senate to follow suit in its version of the bill.