December 28, 2015

Legal challenge against US poultry inspection regime rejected



A legal move against the USDA's New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS) had been rejected in the US' Court Of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit this month.


As a result, registrations with the regime is expected to rise in 2016, the Food Safety News reported. 


A three-judge panel ruled that the opposition against the NPIS, launched by non-governmental organisation Food and Water Watch, was legally inadequate and therefore, will not sustain further.


A written verdict concluded that Food and Water Watch failed to "plausibly alleged" the escalated risk of food-borne illnesses from the implementation of the NPIS.


Subjection under the NPIS is optional and said to be the most significant change for US poultry inspection since Dwight Eisenhower's presidency in the early Cold War years.


The system could, on a yearly basis, prevent close to 5,000 cases of Salmonella and Campylobacter, according to the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). It requires companies to conduct independent quality control before presenting chicken carcasses to FSIS inspectors. The inspectors would then conduct a more regular screening process involving samples testing, checking plant sanitation, observing live birds' conditions, and ensuring compliances with regulations.   


Due to legal hindrances, NPIS was only able to accept about one dozen of the 219 chicken and turkey processing facilities in the US. Another 50 poultry processing sites were put on the waiting list.


A pilot programme prior to the NPIS started in 1997 but did not effect change for 18 years due to legal challenges, according to the Food Safety News.


In addition, unions representing meat inspectors feared that the system could cause job losses as well as increased line speeds. The USDA stated that the NPIS standard for line speeds is capped at 140 birds per minute and consistent with current inspection regimes.

Video >

Follow Us