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US Government Pushes Ahead With New Meat Inspection System

ct that the plants to be inspected did not know they were on the list until hours before the announcement.

AMI's President and CEO, J. Patrick Boyle, said in a statement responding to the government's announcement that "While shifting to a risk-based inspection system for processed meat and poultry products makes theoretical sense, the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) hasty roll-out of this program without affirmative support from its inspectors' union, consumer organizations and participating meat and poultry companies could unnecessarily jeopardize consumer confidence in a meat and poultry supply that has improved its safety profile dramatically over the last decade."

Raymond said that the gradual roll out of the new RBI system will allow it to be evaluated and revised before going nationwide.

Consumer groups such as the Food and Water Watch and the Consumer Federation of America are also not happy with the way the USDA is going about the initiative. Some say that the current inspection data does not give enough information for risk-based assessment to work properly, while others say that the move is reckless and probably just a way for the government to reduce spending.

The announcement has also ruffled some feathers on Capitol Hill. Representative Rosa DeLauro, the Connecticut Democrat who chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees USDA, said that she thinks it is a mistake for USDA to be moving forward on this at this time and she "will be monitoring what happens very closely."

The objections to the government's action boil down to two arguments. One is that by not involving all the stakeholders in the planning and design of the new system the government will not get the co-operation needed to make it work "transparently".

And the second argument that is being made by the objectors is that the data going into the risk assessment will be flawed.

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