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sulfonamide residues. The results of these tests can be obtained within 24 hours, compared with 1 to 2 weeks using conventional methods.


In the judgment of the committee, the techniques that have the greatest potential applicability to FSIS procedures are imaging techniques, computer-assisted information transfer, and automated laboratory methods for analysis and measurement. To achieve the goal of installing a modern, technology-based system, the committee recommends that FSIS develop a capability for conducting or contracting for scientific and technical research tailored to its needs, rather than depending on other USDA agencies. However, interaction with other USDA agencies, other government agencies, and private groups is essential. Thus, the committee also recommends the establishment of a scientific advisory body composed of representatives from government, industry, universities, and research organizations to facilitate such interaction (see Chapter 9).


In view of the above conclusions and recommendations, the committee identified the following components (not in any order of priority) of an optimal meat and poultry inspection system. It recognizes that many of these components are part of the current FSIS system (see Chapter 10).

A trace-back and recall system from final sale to producer for all animals and products destined to enter the human food supply. This is essential for the generation of data that are important to the prevention of disease in humans and that will enable processors and the government to solve problems in the food chain.

Maximum use of plant personnel in process-by-process and day-today monitoring of critical control points, and FSIS oversight to ensure compliance.

• Use in all phases of inspection of a technically qualified team with up-to-date knowledge of veterinary medicine, food science, public health, food engineering, food technology, epidemiology, pathology, toxicology, microbiology, animal science, risk analysis, systems analysis, statistics, computer science, and economics. Similarly, managers should have expertise in several relevant disciplines, including veterinary medicine, food science and technology, nutrition, public health, and public management. No one discipline should dominate management.

An inspection system with different levels of intensity, reflecting the degree of public health risk at various stages in the process, the reliability of the monitoring system, the compliance history of the slaughterhouse or processing plant, and the special needs of the intended consumer (e.g., military personnel and schoolchildren).


Development of a list of the diseases that can be identified by each step in the inspection procedure. This list should be used to determine whether the steps are useful for protecting human or animal health, useful for detecting aesthetically objectionable conditions, necessary to protect consumers against fraud, or able to provide other identifiable benefits.

Random sampling of retained or condemned carcasses and parts of carcasses in order to develop definitive diagnoses. These diagnoses can be used to establish baseline data on etiologies associated with each condemnation category and to provide material for pathology correlation sessions as continuing education for in-plant veterinary medical officers.

Rapid, inexpensive screening tests to detect a broad array of chemical compounds and biological products that may be hazardous to the


· An adequate sampling plan, designed to protect the consumer from exposure to chemicals that are not randomly distributed across the country.

Emphasis on hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP), limiting inspection where the historic yield of violations is low and where public health risks are negligible.

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Documented assurance, backed by substantial compliance enforcement, of the sanitary wholesomeness of all meat and poultry products.

Enhanced enforcement capability to impose a broad range of penalties upon violators, including refusal to inspect and approve their products.

Adequate resources to ensure continued improvement of the technological base of FSIS, including the development of new inspection technologies to reduce cross-contamination of carcasses and more comprehensive assessment of toxicological hazards.

• A mandatory system of initial and continuing education for inspection personnel that emphasizes food science, food technology, pathology, and public health, combined with a recertification program.

A substantial scientific and technical FSIS staff of respected scientists who play a substantial consultative role in the development of policy.

The presence of standing advisory panels composed primarily of outside experts to provide consultation on both policy and practice regarding meat and poultry safety. Disciplines represented on these panels should include food science and technology, computer applications, microbiology, biostatistics, epidemiology, veterinary


medicine, toxicology, systems analysis, animal health, economics, marketing, nutrition, and risk analysis. Again, no one discipline should dominate any panel. All major regulatory proposals should be reviewed by standing advisory panels prior to finalization.

Strong liaison between FSIS, CDC, the Food and Drug Administration, and relevant animal health agencies at the federal, state, and local levels to ensure that no hazards are overlooked.

Substantial use of a rapid, timely, and flexible system (probably computer-based) to acquire, transfer, analyze, and make more widely available data related to inspection and to meat-borne hazards.

The committee encourages FSIS to compare its program with these criteria and to establish a schedule for incorporating missing components as soon as feasible.


The Basis for a
Risk-Assessment Approach

Prepared by the Committee on
Public Health Risk Assessment of
Poultry Inspection Programs

Food and Nutrition Board
Commission on Life Sciences
National Research Council

Washington, D.C. 1987 -



The production, slaughter, and distribution of broiler chickens (fryers) has become a major food industry that touches the lives of most Americans. Poultry products are currently consumed at a rate of well over 4 billion birds per year in the United States. Those products that pass through the inspection system required by law are, for the most part, wholesome. But because these products are potentially important vehicles of bacterial and chemical contaminants, the primary government agency charged with the oversight of poultry slaughter, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), has for the past decade been attempting to improve the effectiveness of poultry inspection by studying, testing, and reviewing several modifications of the existing program. Its goal has been to develop a system that retains the bird-by-bird inspection mandated by law, incorporates new technological advances, and more directly addresses public health concerns.

In 1983, recognizing the need to evaluate these proposed changes in inspection procedures, the Administrator of FSIS requested that the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) of the National Research Council (NRC) examine the scientific basis of USDA's meat and poultry inspection program. The committee appointed to perform that task, the Committee on the Scientific Basis of the Nation's Meat and Poultry Inspection Programs, thoroughly evaluated current FSIS inspection programs. During the course of its study of those programs the committee observed that it could not find a comprehensive statement of criteria justifying inspection procedures, a systematic data base on contaminants, or a technically complete analysis of the benefits to human health resulting from the inspection process. That is, in general it found that it is not possible to determine from existing data whether current inspection programs actually fulfill their goal of protecting the public health. That committee considered whether to recommend a move to one of the newly proposed, less-than-continuous postmortem inspection systems but concluded that no such changes should be recommended until justified by a detailed risk analysis of the public health risks involved. It recommended that FSIS establish a risk-assessment program and apply formal risk-assessment procedures to assist in planning and evaluating all phases of poultry production in which hazards to public health might occur.

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