Food Safety: Weaknesses in Meat and Poultry Inspection Pilot Should Be Addressed Before Implementation

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A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced in 1997 that it would modify its meat and poultry slaughter inspection program to make industry more responsible for identifying carcass defects. Before making the change permanent, USDA developed a model to test whether a prevention-oriented inspection system that uses plant personnel to examine each carcass and USDA inspectors to verify that quality standards are met would continue to ensure the safety of meat and poultry products. USDA's pilot project for chickens had several design and methodology problems that compromised ... continued below

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United States. General Accounting Office. December 17, 2001.

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Description

A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced in 1997 that it would modify its meat and poultry slaughter inspection program to make industry more responsible for identifying carcass defects. Before making the change permanent, USDA developed a model to test whether a prevention-oriented inspection system that uses plant personnel to examine each carcass and USDA inspectors to verify that quality standards are met would continue to ensure the safety of meat and poultry products. USDA's pilot project for chickens had several design and methodology problems that compromised the overall validity and reliability of its results. First, the chicken pilot that USDA designed lacked a control group--a critical design flaw that precluded a comparison between the performance of the inspection systems at those plants that volunteered to participate in the pilot and that of plants that did not participate. Second, the chicken plants that volunteered to participate in the baseline measurement phase of the pilot were not randomly selected, and they did not include plants from all chicken-producing areas or plants of all sizes. Third, the pilot project's methodology did not take into account such variables as seasonal changes and plant modifications that could affect project results. Finally, USDA's pilot project did not include features of the modified inspection systems in Australia and Canada that would be important considerations in ensuring the successful implementation of a modified inspection system nationwide. Notwithstanding the project's design problems, the data themselves do not conclusively demonstrate that modified inspections are at least equal to traditional inspections."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • December 17, 2001

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  • June 11, 2014, 5:03 a.m.

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United States. General Accounting Office. Food Safety: Weaknesses in Meat and Poultry Inspection Pilot Should Be Addressed Before Implementation, report, December 17, 2001; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc291262/: accessed December 11, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.