Sixty members of Congress have signed a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to delay the expansion of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Based Inspection Models Project.
The HACCP-Based Inspection Models Project was developed by the Food Safety and Inspection Service. According to USDA, the system focuses more control for food safety and other consumer protection activities on the establishment, with USDA personnel focusing on carcass and verification system activities.
In their Jan. 19 letter, the representatives ask Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to delay releasing a proposed modernization of the hog slaughter inspection rule, which is expected this year. The effort is led by Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y.
“We are concerned that these new rules are being pushed by the industry to increase profits at the expense of public health,” the letter reads.
The letter cites Government Accountability Office and USDA Office of Inspector General reports that question “the efficacy of the hog HIMP and the adequacy of USDA’s evaluation of the program.”
“Before expanding the HIMP program to hog slaughter facilities across the country, FSIS should provide some assurance that removing government inspectors from these facilities, and relying on company employees to take over many of their duties, would not lead to process control shortcuts, increased fecal and other adulteration of meat products, higher incidences of microbial contamination, and ultimately, a rise in foodborne illness,” the letter reads.
The membrs are also concerned about worker safety and humane hog slaughter.
There are five pig slaughter facilities operating under HIMP, which began in 1997. HIMP is also used in poultry plants.
Several organizations, including Compassion over Killing and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals are opposed to HIMP. Retired USDA inspectors have also shared concerns.