Assessment of the Potential Change in Human Risk of Salmonella Illnesses Associated with Modernizing Inspection of Market Hog Slaughter Establishments
FSIS is the food safety agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). With its mission of promoting public health, FSIS has legal authority to regulate the slaughter and production processes of meat and related industries. FSIS is currently considering proposals to improve public health through the design of a modernized approach to swine inspection known as the New Swine Inspection System (NSIS). FSIS conducted this public health risk assessment to inform proposals for altering market hog slaughter establishment inspection under a NSIS.
Currently, FSIS Inspection Program Personnel (IPP, “inspectors”) in market hog establishments perform a variety of online and offline duties. Online duties include examining carcasses and parts for food safety and non-food safety defects, while offline duties include verifying compliance with sanitation, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), and humane handling requirements. Many of the online inspection tasks currently carried out by FSIS inspectors are related to food quality and do not align with the FSIS mission of food safety. This risk assessment aims to estimate any potential change in illness or risks, measured as change in Salmonella prevalence, from modifying the allocation of FSIS inspectors in market hog slaughter establishments. To do so, this report considers multiple alternative scenarios that provide FSIS inspectors more time and flexibility to perform offline inspection tasks.
This report, which has undergone a formal peer review, is consistent with FSIS’ focus on Salmonella outlined in the Agency’s 1996 implementation of the HACCP inspection system. That focus was due to the following key characteristics of Salmonella: “…(1) it is the most common bacterial cause of foodborne illness; (2) FSIS baseline data show that Salmonella colonizes a variety of mammals and birds, and occurs at frequencies which permit changes to be detected and monitored; (3) current methodologies can recover Salmonella from a variety of meat and poultry products; and (4) intervention strategies aimed at reducing fecal contamination and other sources of Salmonella on raw product should be effective against other pathogens” (FSIS, 1996). In addition, FSIS’ exploratory sample recently confirmed that Salmonella is much more frequently detected in pork products (16.7%) than methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (4.5%).