The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP)appreciates this opportunity to comment on the proposed rule. Some of the provisions in the proposed rule should not be controversial. For example, so long as FSIS provides training requirements for plant employees to sort out ante mortem swine prior to their inspection by FSIS veterinarians, and that plant management verifies to FSIS that these requirements are met, IATP does not oppose prudent delegation of this FSIS authority. In this comment, we remark on provisions of the rule that we judge to be controversial and in need of greater justification.
IATP has responded to earlier HACCP-based proposed rulemakings. A former IATP board member and former USDA official Rod Leonard advised federal meat inspectors in their successful lawsuit against FSIS in 2000 to prevent implementation of the HACCP-based Inspection Model Production (HIMP) applied to poultry slaughter plants. The proposed rule summarizes modifications to HIMP that FSIS made to comply with the 2000 Court of Appeals ruling. In 2002, the Court deferred to the agency’s authority to make HIMP compliant with the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) while delegating FSIS inspection authorities to plant management and employees, (Federal Register [FR] / Vol. 83, No. 22 / Thursday, February 1, 2018 / Proposed Rules, 4787).
In 2013, Mr. Leonard (now retired) wrote of the Foster Farms salmonella contamination of chicken consumed in eighteen states, and the severe reviews by the General Accountability Office (GAO) and the USDA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of FSIS HIMP Public Health Information System (PHIS) data quality, “Rather than grasp the Foster case as an opportunity to demonstrate the agency retains its historic commitment to protecting food safety and the public health, FSIS and USDA have chosen to obscure vital public information, welcome inaction and accept a mission as a servant of industry.”
To read the full letter, click on the PDF below