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Congressmen Commend Poultry Slaughter Inspection Final Rule

07 August 2014

US - Congressmen Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02) and Rick Crawford (AR-01), Co-Chairs of the Congressional Chicken Caucus, have released statements after USDA published its final rule on the 'Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection' on 31 July 2014.

"I commend USDA for implementing a voluntary-based inspection rule for the poultry industry, prioritizing, modernizing, and bolstering food safety in the US," said Congressman Crawford. "At the same time, I’m disheartened the Department continues to hamstring slaughter output despite years of hard evidence disproving that increased line speeds equates to greater food safety concerns. We cannot expect our producers and processors to compete against foreign markets if we hold them back."

"Due to the controversial nature of the proposed rule, I commend USDA for exercising caution in not increasing poultry processing line speeds from 140 birds per minute (BPM) to 175BPM and attempting to ensure the safety and welfare of poultry workers, many of whom have jobs which are highly susceptible to occupational health injuries," said Congressman Bishop. "However, implementation of the rule will reduce the number of Food Safety and Inspection Service inspectors, which critics say leaves the ‘foxes to guard the hen house.’ Now, unless Congress intercedes, the rule will remain final with USDA."

Congressmen Bishop of Georgia and Crawford of Arkansas both represent top poultry producing states. On 31 July 2014, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) published its Final Rule on the Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection. This new rule amends the poultry products inspection regulations and establishes an optional New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS) for young chicken and all turkey slaughter establishments.

The NPIS is designed to facilitate the reduction of food-borne bacteria such as Salmonella and Campylobacter in poultry products by shifting Agency resources to allow FSIS inspectors to perform more efficient and effective inspections.

Due to occupational, health, and safety concerns raised by poultry workers, labour unions, consumer groups, civil rights groups, and some Members of Congress, FSIS decided not to implement the proposed poultry processing line speed of 175 BPM and maintained the current line speed at 140BPM.

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