OIG Report “Not a Safety Indicator” for Nation’s Meat and Poultry Supply

Today, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a report reviewing various aspects of USDA’s meat and poultry inspection activities. Jenny Scott, Senior Director of Food Safety Programs for the National Food Processors Association (NFPA) commented on the reports:

“The food industry has worked closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on implementation of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) requirements. Carrying out this program and this partnership has led to a safer food supply in the United States. We look forward to further cooperative efforts with USDA to improve HACCP systems. We are committed to HACCP and food safety. This OIG report should by no means be construed as an indication that the safety of the U.S. food supply is in question, nor used as a justification for returning to the old ‘command and control’ system of inspection that HACCP replaces.

“The OIG report is being carefully studied by industry. Whether it is FDA’s seafood HACCP requirements or USDA’s HACCP requirements for meat and poultry, no one can expect implementation to proceed without occasional hitches. What is required now are technical corrections or refinements that will optimize the effectiveness of HACCP. The industry has submitted a petition asking FSIS to make certain changes in the HACCP regulations that we believe will facilitate improvement in HACCP implementation. We are encouraging USDA to take the steps necessary to improve issues related to documentation of existing programs.

“NFPA does not believe that increased agency authority, such as civil monetary penalties, is necessary. Rather, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service should more effectively utilize the authority it already has.”

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