FSIS administrator Thomas J. Billy said that defects in young chickens have been markedly lower among plants using the revised inspection system, which establishes performance standards for food safety and defects, and follows up with inspections to ensure that the standards are being met. Plants participating in the project must revise their HACCP systems to meet the performance standards and establish process control points to address OCP concerns.
Under the program, FSIS places a carcass inspector at a fixed point just before birds enter the chiller. The inspector serves as the final government checkpoint for consumer-ready product while a second off-line inspector verifies the adequacy of the plant's HACCP and process control procedures, as well as its ability to adequately handle problems.
Although some 20 plants that slaughter young chickens, hogs and turkeys are participating in the project, only data for the young chickens is available - representing the performance of 14 plants.
Within two categories of defects considered food safety related, FSIS inspector verification checks found a 99.9 percent reduction in defects over traditional slaughter inspection. Five categories addressing conditions that do not pose a food safety hazard also showed improvements, with four of the five showing a greater than 50 percent reduction in defects.
Independent consultant Research Triangle Institute continues to collect data assessing the adequacy of the revised design. Their data is expected to be released later this year.