OIG report says FSIS does not deter swine slaughter plants from repeat violations

OIG report says FSIS does not deter swine slaughter plants from repeat violations

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By Rita Jane Gabbett on 5/17/2013

The Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS) enforcement policies do not deter swine slaughter plants from becoming repeat violators of the Federal Meat Inspection Act, according to a new report by the Office of the Inspector General.

As a result, plants have repeatedly violated the same regulations with little or no consequence. The OIG report found that in 8 of the 30 plants visited, inspectors did not always examine the internal organs of carcasses in accordance with FSIS inspection requirements or did not take enforcement actions against plants that violated food safety regulations.

“As a result, there is reduced assurance of FSIS inspectors effectively identifying pork that should not enter the food supply,” the report asserted.

OIG also found that FSIS could not determine whether the goals of a pilot program called the "Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP)-based Inspection Models Project," or HIMP, were met because FSIS did not adequately oversee the program.

“In the 15 years since the program’s inception, FSIS did not critically assess whether the new inspection process had measurably improved food safety at each HIMP plant, a key goal of the program,” according to the report.

Finally, OIG found that FSIS inspectors did not take appropriate enforcement actions at 8 of the 30 swine slaughter plants visited for violations of the Humane Method of Slaughter Act (HMSA).

OIG reviewed 158 humane handling noncompliance records (violations) issued to the 30 plants and found 10 instances of egregious violations where inspectors did not issue suspensions.

“As a result, the plants did not improve their slaughter practices, and FSIS could not ensure humane handling of swine. FSIS concurred with all of our recommendations,” the report said.

To download the full report, including 11 specific OIG recommendations and FSIS responses, click here.