USDA Hopes to Reduce Foodborne Illnesses in Poultry Plants with New Inspection Rules

For more than 50 years, inspections at poultry plants have been largely the same. That fact does not seem terribly remarkable until you think about the technological advancements we have seen in 50 years – from MRIs to DNA fingerprinting to electric cars. When presented in that light, you have to wonder why it took so long to implement changes that could improve food safety. 

At any rate, the changes are here and are estimated to prevent as many as 5,000 foodborne illnesses a year. Here are the basics of the new rules:

·       Poultry producers are required to perform microbiological testing at two points in their production process to prevent salmonella and campylobacter contamination. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, salmonella and campylobacter are two of the most common causes of foodborne illnesses. Salmonella alone causes 1.2 million illnesses and 450 deaths in the United States each year.

·       The maximum line speed for poultry plants will remain capped at 140 birds per minutes. Some had advocated for line speeds of up to 200 birds per minutes and the initial proposal had been for a line speed of 175. The lower line speed still requires an inspector to inspect 2.33 birds every second. Not surprisingly, many think such a speed still puts the public at risk.

·       In an effort to maximize federal inspectors time in the plant, plant employees will be allowed to conduct some preliminary sorting duties. Some fear this will eventually mean a reduction in federal inspectors. 

Only time will tell if the new rules are a victory for the poultry-consuming public so we will continue to watch this issue. To learn more about food poisoning, click here. If you would like to discuss a potential case, call us for a free, no-obligation consultation at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787. We handle all food poisoning cases on a contingency basis so we only get paid if we recover money for you.