WASHINGTON, DC—Congresswomen Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY) expressed great disappointment with today’s release of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) controversial proposed poultry inspection rule. The final rule is largely based on the HACCP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP), which DeLauro and Slaughter have raised strong objections to previously.

“We urged FSIS to withdraw the proposed rule until the agency thoroughly engaged with all impacted stakeholders and addressed its impact on the public, workers and animals, and adherence to good commercial practices. That was not done. And while we greatly 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.

“This rule means fewer USDA food safety inspectors in poultry slaughter facilities, which is a recipe for more foodborne illness and more people in the hospital. We fully expect industry will flock to the more lax HIMP processing, which has not been supported by rigorous evaluation. Fewer inspectors on the slaughter line means less enforcement of regulatory requirements and more danger for American consumers. We will be following up with USDA in the coming weeks and expect them to fully explain how they will ensure foodborne illness does not reach the dinner tables of American consumers.”

DeLauro is a former Chairwoman of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee which funds USDA and is a longtime advocate for stronger food safety standards. Slaughter, the only microbiologist in Congress, is the author of the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), which would ban the routine overuse of eight critical classes of antibiotics on healthy food animals.