USDA appears to be pushing ahead with a controversial proposal to modify its poultry slaughter inspection program despite a troubling report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). GAO found that USDA had not thoroughly evaluated its pilot programs of the proposed inspection plan and could not validate the effectiveness of the pilot or the ability to generalize the data from the pilot to poultry slaughter plants nationwide.
The GAO report also identified similar problems with a USDA pilot pig-slaughter inspection program. In both cases, the modified inspection program lowers the required number of government food safety officials on the slaughter line and, in the case of poultry, allows for higher line speeds. In its comments opposing the poultry proposal, AWI noted that fewer inspectors and faster speeds will jeopardize animal welfare, along with compromising food safety and the health and safety of slaughter plant workers.