USDA Report Flags Concern in New Swine Inspection System

USDA ( MGN Image )

The USDA’s Inspector General released a report on the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS) New Swine Inspection System (NSIS) on June 25 stating that it failed to evaluate the accuracy of worker-safety data it used to support a new hog inspection system that allows processing plants to run at faster speeds.

According to the report, FSIS generally complied with the public participation requirements under Executive Order 13563 and communicated to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health about the impact of the proposed rule. 

However, according to the USDA report, FSIS did not fully disclose sources for its analysis on how the rule would affect worker safety. Additionally, the report said the system did not fully adhere to the USDA Information Quality Activities Guidelines data presentation and transparency requirements in the worker safety analysis section in the proposed rule. FSIS also did not take adequate steps to determine whether the worker safety data it used for the proposed rule were reliable, the report said. 

In its response, FSIS noted that the worker safety analysis was not used as a basis for the NSIS rulemaking, and the agency felt the inspector general placed distorted emphasis on minor omissions in the NSIS proposal text, including a website citation and a typo in a table. 

The response also reinforced the responsibility that OSHA, not FSIS, holds for regulating employee safety. 

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