USDA FSIS Procedural Changes: Modernization of Poultry Slaughter – HIMP Rule
On July 31, 2014 the United States Department of Agriculture passed a new poultry slaughter inspection system based on the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS’) 15-year pilot program called the HACCP-based Inspection Model Project (HIMP).
FSIS lists responsibility and flexibility, more focus on food safety, potential job creation, and increased production as strengths of the program.
The new poultry inspection system is supposed to focus on Salmonella and Campylobacter prevention rather than addressing contamination after it occurs.
For the first time ever, poultry facilities will be required to perform microbiological testing at two points in their production process.
The new poultry inspection system raises the following concerns for food consumers:
- It is an optional program. If poultry plants do not want to implement the new changes, they do not have to.
- It does not require plants to test directly for Salmonella or Campylobacter, the two pathogens most frequently associated with raw poultry.
- Rather than establishing uniform standards across the industry, the proposal allows each plant to decide the level of bruises, feathers, bile, or ingesta appropriate for birds going down the processing line.
- The proposal removes inspectors from the processing line and turns inspection activities over to plant employees who are not required to be trained in their new inspection duties.
- The proposal allows plants to increase their line speeds.
- Increased line speeds will increase injury rates among workers.
In accordance with the position of the Safe Food Coalition (of which Stop is an active member), Stop Foodborne Illness does not support any of the USDA’s changes to the current inspection program.