Turkey Industry Supports USDA Modernizing Food Safety Inspection System

The National Turkey Federation (NTF), in comments submitted today, said the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s proposed new poultry inspection system represents the logical next step in modernization of the nation’s food safety system.

“The proposed rule is a modern, sensible approach that will allow the food safety inspectors to focus on public health,” said Joel Brandenberger, NTF President.  The proposed rule will lead to a revamped inspection system that allows the federal inspectors to shift to prevention-oriented inspection systems and redeploy its resources in a manner that better protects the public from food-borne diseases.”

The rule is based on the HACCP Inspection Models Project (HIMP), which has been successfully carried out for the past 13 years, proving that a flexible, more efficient, fully integrated meat and poultry inspection system will not compromise food safety.

NTF’s comments noted that the turkey industry has spent millions of dollars to implement HACCP – the most modern meat inspection system in the world. NTF views the proposed rule as the appropriate next step in protecting public health through modern, science-based food safety techniques.  In fact, the turkey industry has made tremendous progress on reducing naturally occurring pathogens in raw product and that success has been replicated in HIMP plants. All of the industry’s HIMP plants were in the top performing category under FSIS’ previous performance standards and NTF is confident the industry will continue to meet and exceed the new standards.

USDA’s proposed rule will also protect employee safety and create jobs.  After 13 years under the HIMP program, data indicates no increase in worker injuries expected under the new system. Additionally, in many instances, turkey HIMP plants have reported worker injury rates well below the already low industry average.  While improving food safety is the primary concern, in the current economy it is important to note that the proposed rule will create the need to hire additional in-plant personnel in many areas.

In its support of USDA’s efforts to improve food safety, the turkey industry will continue to place the highest priority on food safety to ensure the production of the highest quality, safest products possible.

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