Food Safety: More Disclosure and Data Needed to Clarify Impact of Changes to Poultry and Hog Inspections

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A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has not thoroughly evaluated the performance of each of the pilot projects over time even though the agency stated it would do so when it announced the pilot projects. For example, in 2011, USDA completed a report evaluating the pilot project at 20 young chicken plants concluding that an inspection system based on the pilot project would ensure equivalent, if not better, levels of food safety and quality than currently provided at plants not in the pilot project. However, among ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. August 22, 2013.

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Description

A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has not thoroughly evaluated the performance of each of the pilot projects over time even though the agency stated it would do so when it announced the pilot projects. For example, in 2011, USDA completed a report evaluating the pilot project at 20 young chicken plants concluding that an inspection system based on the pilot project would ensure equivalent, if not better, levels of food safety and quality than currently provided at plants not in the pilot project. However, among the limitations of its evaluation was the use of snapshots of data for two 2-year periods instead of data for the duration of the pilot project, which has been ongoing for more than a decade. In addition, USDA did not complete an evaluation on or prepare a report evaluating the pilot project at 5 young turkey plants and has no plans to do so because of the small sample size. Nevertheless, in publishing a proposed rule that includes an optional new poultry (chicken and turkey) inspection system, USDA stated that the new system was based on its experience with the pilot projects at young chicken and young turkey plants. As a result, USDA may not have assurance that its evaluation of the pilot project at young chicken plants provides the information necessary to support the proposed rule for both chickens and turkeys. However, the agency will not complete another evaluation before it issues a final rule. USDA has begun drafting a preliminary report evaluating the pilot project at young hog plants using analyses similar to those presented in the report evaluating young chicken plants, suggesting that similar limitations may apply. Agency officials stated that when USDA develops a proposed rulemaking to modify its slaughter inspection system for hogs, the agency will need to decide whether to collect additional data. Without collecting and analyzing additional data, it will be difficult for USDA to draw conclusions about whether the pilot project at young hog plants is meeting its purpose. While the pilot project is ongoing, USDA has the opportunity to collect and analyze additional information."

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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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  • August 22, 2013

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  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Food Safety: More Disclosure and Data Needed to Clarify Impact of Changes to Poultry and Hog Inspections, report, August 22, 2013; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc298227/: accessed September 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.