- The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released its strategic plan for 2017 to 2021 for the Food Safety and Inspection Service, Meatingplace reported.
- FSIS has outlined a five-year plan that includes "broad goals to increase inspections, toughen food safety regulations and expand processes for evaluating imported meat, poultry and egg products," according to Meatingplace.
- In terms of food safety, the agency "is expanding the breadth, depth, and frequency of its sampling to better address gaps in testing for pathogens and chemical residues in FSIS-regulated products," according to its report.
"Approaches include unifying testing so that FSIS only collects one sample for each product and tests it for multiple microbiological hazards or chemical residues, and leveraging new technology to increase precision, gain efficiencies, and better identify and define hazards and problems," the FSIS strategic plan states. This strategy is similar to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's recent switch to genetics-based testing and traceability for recalls and other food safety issues.
In addition to food safety, the agency also plans to boost its use of modernized inspection techniques, particularly in the realm of animal welfare, where there are concerns about how farmers and processors handle, stun and restrain animals.
Stunning and restraining food animals may not be top-of-mind for many consumers, but those who are conscious of animal welfare issues and who demand more sustainably-produced meat products are likely to support FSIS's plan here. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, the agency is recommending that processors be more cognizant of their methods to ensure the animals are slaughtered with minimal pain and suffering.
President-elect Donald Trump has yet to announce his appointment for head of the Department of Agriculture, so it's unclear whether all of these regulations will remain in place once he or she takes office. But food safety doesn't merely shape consumer confidence. It also factors into costs and profitability for these companies, which could protect these regulations from significant changes in the incoming administration.