Wednesday, December 4, 2013

U.S. takes poultry inspectors off line

The Obama administration is taking more inspectors off poultry-processing lines and increasintg its reliance on swabs and tests for harmful bacteria.

Reducing salmonella-caused food poisonings is the target of the changes.

“Far too many Americans are sickened by Salmonella every year. The aggressive and comprehensive steps detailed in the Salmonella Action Plan will protect consumers by making meat and poultry products safer,” said Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Food Safety Elisabeth Hagen.

She is due to leave the agency in a couple of weeks.

The U.S.D.A.’s Food Safety Inspection Service said in a news release that it has assessed “the latest scientific information available” and emerging trends in foodborne illness and that its inspectors will “be empowered with the tools necessary to expeditiously pinpoint problems.”

The FSIS claims that inspectors will better be able to detect salmonella earlier, ostensibly before it can cause an outbreak.

They're just blowing smoke. Lab testing didn't do the trick for XL Foods Inc. in Alberta last year, and it didn't keep people from dying of Listeriosis coming out of the Maple Leaf Foods Inc. plant in Toronto.

But, then again, what do on-the-line inspectors see when the birds are whipping by at the rate of up to 90 birds per minute?

Hagen didn't say a word about slowing down those line speeds in the interests of food safety. Now wouldn't that be a novel idea: actually giving staff more time to take care about food safety.