US poultry plants with lower risks to receive fewer inspections
"There are certain food products that carry a higher
inherent risk than others," said Richard Raymond, the Agriculture Department's
top food safety official. "There are certain plants that do a better job of
controlling risk than others."
The first major changes to food inspection in a decade
will increase federal scrutiny of meat and poultry plants where the danger from
other germs is high or where past visits have found unsafe practices. The new
policy will result in fewer inspections at plants with lower risks and better
records for handling meat and poultry.
To decide the level of scrutiny a plant should get, the "risk-based" system
will consider the type of product and the plant's record of food safety
violations. A plant that makes hamburger and has repeated violations would get
more inspection. A plant that makes cooked, canned ham and has a clean track
record would get less scrutiny.
The risk-based inspection system will be the most
significant change to food safety inspections in a decade. The department
overhauled inspections in 1996 when hundreds of people got sick and four
children died after eating undercooked
hamburgers from Jack in the Box
now, the new system will be used in processing plants, not in slaughter plants.
No timetable has been set for shifting to the new inspection system, although
the Agriculture Department
expected to release one within the next few weeks
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