WASHINGTON, DC—A bipartisan group of 68 members of Congress today called on U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to withdraw a proposed poultry inspection rule. If it were to be implemented the rule would replace current inspection procedures with a system that undermines food safety, worker safety and animal welfare.
“While we strongly support modernizing our food safety system and making it more efficient, modernization should not occur at the expense of public health, worker safety, or animal welfare,” the members, led by Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Jim Moran (D-VA), Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) and Bennie Thompson (D-MS), wrote to Secretary Vilsack. “We therefore harbor serious concerns over what we believe are the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS)’s inadequate considerations to date of these issues in promulgating this rule…We urge FSIS to withdraw the proposed rule until the agency has thoroughly addressed its impact on the public, workers, and animals and adherence to good commercial practices.”
In addition to the public health, worker safety and animal welfare policies, the representatives also outlined their concerns with FSIS’s process in crafting the rule, which was done with limited stakeholder engagement compared to other proposals made by the agency.
The proposed rule is largely based on the HACCP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP). The Government Accountability Office raised serious questionsabout whether HIMP data being used by FSIS supports USDA’s claims of improved food safety benefits in this rule, further calling the wisdom of this proposed rule into question.