The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service’s Quarterly Enforcement Reports always begin the same way. They wrap up the thousands of inspection procedures performed by FSIS staff at federally inspected establishments into one number,
For Oct. 1, 2021, through Dec. 31, 2021, that number is 98.7 percent, which is the “compliance rate.” It’s what you get when 1.8 million “verification procedures” are performed by FSIS personnel, and 23,002 are documented for noncompliance.
The report for the first quarter of the fiscal year 2022 explains the enforcement system this way: “Each time inspection program personnel make a noncompliance determination, they complete a Noncompliance Record (NR). An NR is a written record that documents non-compliance with FSIS regulations. An NR notifies the establishment that there is noncompliance and that they should remedy the situation and prevent its recurrence. NRs reflect a variety of non-compliance determinations, ranging from non-food safety issues to serious breakdowns in food safety controls.”
The number of NR Appeals and their status is the next area included in the report. There were 457 appeals filed for the first period, with 102 granted and 190 denied. Another 88 cases were pending when the period ended, and 77 appeals ended with modified NRs.
Imported meat and poultry is included in the report just ahead of the domestic numbers. “FSIS conducts port-of-entry reinspection of imported meat, poultry, and egg products,” it reports. “This activity is a reinspection of products that have already been inspected and passed by an equivalent foreign inspection system. Thus, imported product reinspection is a means of verifying the equivalence of a foreign country’s inspection system on an ongoing basis.”
FSIS re-inspected about 1.3 billion pounds of imported meat and poultry between Oct. 1, 2021, and Dec. 31, 2021. Not all made it as FSIS refused entry to the USA of 11.6 million pounds. Agency inspectors also refused entry to 69,567 pounds of eggs for import to the USA.
Quarterly reports also track domestic livestock and poultry production because both inspections and condemnations are included.
At slaughter, livestock inspections during the period totaled 42.2 million, and poultry carcasses inspections hit 2.38 billion. Livestock condemnations totaled 63,526 head, and poultry condemnations were just over 2.7 million.
The quarterly report says FSIS “takes product control actions to gain physical control over products when there is reason to believe that they are adulterated, misbranded, or otherwise in violation of the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA), Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA), or the Egg Products Inspection Act (EPIA).”
“These actions are designed to ensure that those products do not enter commerce or, if they are already in the trade, that they do not reach consumers,” it says.
Products that are adulterated, misbranded, or otherwise in violation of the law when found in commerce may be detained by FSIS. The agency says most detentions result in involuntary action, such as the product owner or custodian’s voluntary disposal of the product.
If detained product cannot be disposed of within 20 days, then FSIS may request, through the Office of the General Counsel and the U.S. Attorney, that a U.S. District Court enter an order to seize the product as provided for in the FMIA, PPIA, and EPIA.
The FSIS Office of Investigation, Enforcement, and Audit (OIEA), which conducts surveillance and investigations, detained 177,170 pounds of meat, poultry, and egg products in 55 actions during the quarter.
Ten large establishments faced administrative actions by FSIS during the period. Included on that list were:
- Eddy Packing Co., Yoakum, TX;
- Foster Poultry Farms, Livingston, CA;
- JBS, Tolleson, AZ;
- Long Prairie Packing, Long Prairie MN;
- Mountain Farms of Delaware, Millsboro, DE;
- Pilgrim’s Pride, Nacogdoches, TX;
- Seaboard Foods, Guymon, OK;
- Seaboard Triumph Foods, Sioux City, IA;
- Smithfield Farmland, Dension, IA; and
- Smithfield packaged Meats, Sioux Falls, SD.
Most of the large violators took short suspension. Half involved inhumane treatment violations during slaughter and three involved HACCP issues.