WASHINGTON —  The US Dept. of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) released some early totals for 2017 on Dec. 21.

Throughout the year, FSIS inspected more than 155 million head of livestock and 9.45 billion poultry carcasses. Inspectors also conducted 6.9 million food safety and food defense procedures across 6,500 regulated meat, poultry and egg establishments.

“FSIS’ dedicated public servants take their public health mission seriously and work tirelessly to prevent foodborne illness,” said Carmen Rottenberg, acting deputy undersecretary for food safety at the USDA. “The US food safety inspection system is the most reliable and trusted in the world and we will continue to earn that trust by protecting public health and modernizing systems and processes.”

Also, FSIS enhanced its ability to identify and prevent pathogens in poultry processing facilities with its New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS). Under these rules poultry companies must meet new requirements to prevent Salmonella and Campylobacter contamination, rather than addressing contamination after it occurs.

All poultry facilities must perform their own microbiological testing at two points in their production process to prove that Salmonella and Campylobacter are under control. These requirements are in addition to examination by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). An optional NPIS enables poultry companies to sort their own products for defects before presenting it to FSIS for inspection.

The NPIS rules have not come without some push back, based largely on concerns about privacy. Groups have sued for the names of the companies in the NPIS and the deregulation of poultry line speeds.

FSIS also released its numbers on its foreign country equivalence oversight and import reinspection programs.

In 2017, FSIS completed ongoing equivalence verification audits of 17 countries to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Currently, more than 185 establishments and 33 countries are deemed eligible by FSIS. In the last year, approximately 4 billion lbs. of meat and poultry products were presented for FSIS re-inspection.