USDA fires back on inspection protocols

Philip Derfler, deputy administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service writes in this letter to The New York Times that in “Making a Pig’s Ear of Food Safety” (Op-Ed, Dec. 13), Ted Genoways unfairly portrays a pilot food safety inspection program that is being run by the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, or F.S.I.S. In the pilot, federal inspectors are actually able to perform more food safety checks per shift than in more traditional inspection programs.

Chicago_meat_inspection_swift_co_1906Further, although Mr. Genoways cites problems that occurred during implementation of a new agency data collection system, no meat entered the market uninspected because of these problems. While the new system helps the agency analyze data, daily inspection does not rely on the system’s operation.

Mr. Genoways’s dire predictions about F.S.I.S.’s direction are without basis. The Government Accountability Office found in a recent report that F.S.I.S. is a “science-based, data-driven” organization.

Consumers can be assured that any changes to F.S.I.S.’s food safety system will be based on the best approaches to ensure food safety, as determined by relevant data and applicable science.