More food safety standards for poultry plants

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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WASHINGTON – The US Department of Agriculture's New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS) comes with additional food-safety requirements that processors must meet.

Poultry companies must meet new requirements to prevent Salmonella and Campylobacter contamination, rather than addressing contamination after it occurs. Additionally, all poultry facilities must perform their own microbiological testing at two points in their production process to show that Salmonella and Campylobacter is under control. These requirements are in addition to testing by the Food safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

"The United States has been relying on a poultry inspection model that dates back to 1957, while rates of foodborne illness due to Salmonella and Campylobacter remain stubbornly high," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "The system we are announcing today imposes stricter requirements on the poultry industry and places our trained inspectors where they can better ensure food is being processed safely. These improvements make use of sound science to modernize food safety procedures and prevent thousands of illnesses each year."

An optional NPIS enables poultry companies to sort their own products for defects before presenting it to FSIS for inspection. USDA said the system will allow FSIS inspectors to more frequently remove birds from the evisceration line for close examinations, take samples for testing, check plant sanitation, verify compliance with food safety plans and observe live birds for signs of disease or mishandling.

Finally, maximum line speeds for plant that newly adopt the NPIS are capped at 140 birds per minute. The move was in response to public comments regarding worker safety. All companies operating under the NPIS must maintain a program to encourage early reporting of work-related injuries and illnesses, and FSIS employees will receive new instructions on how to report workplace hazards.

FSIS estimates the NPIS and additional food safety requirements will prevent nearly 5,000 Salmonella and Campylobacter foodborne illnesses each year.
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