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Capitol Health Call
October 9, 2013

GAO Questions Changes to USDA Poultry and Hog Inspection

JAMA. 2013;310(14):1437. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.278882

In January 2012, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a proposed rule to modernize poultry slaughter inspections based, in part, on data from pilot projects launched in 1998, but a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report finds the department has not thoroughly evaluated the performance of these pilot projects.

USDA employs more than 3700 veterinarians and inspectors at more than 900 slaughter plants to control the spread of foodborne diseases. Inspectors positioned on slaughter lines sort all carcasses to identify defects and direct plant personnel to remove unacceptable carcasses. The pilot projects, involving chicken, turkey, and hog slaughter, shifted the sorting duty to plant personnel with USDA inspectors verifying safety and quality.