Canadian Packaging

USDA says no to speeding up young chicken processing lines

By Canadian Packaging staff   

Food Safety General Foods Safety and Inspection Service FSIS HACCP-based Inspection Models Project HACCP-based Inspection Models Project pilot study National Chicken Council United States Department of Agriculture USDA

The Foods Safety and Inspection Service of the USDA has rejected a petition to increase the processing speed of young chicken plants from its 140-bird-per-minute maximum.

Citing food safety issues, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture)’s Foods Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) agency has said no to a request from the National Chicken Council wanting the lines speeds at the young chicken processing plants to be increased from its current 140 birds per minute maximum speed. The Council is a Washington, DC-based trade association for companies that raise broiler chickens and make and market chicken products.

FSIS acting deputy undersecretary for food safety Carmen Rottenberg says that while the current regulations allow for certain waivers of the top line speed, the National Chicken Council was asking for no line speed limit, noting that information gleaned from a HACCP-based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) pilot study says that plant inspectors can only effectively perform line inspections up to a rate of 175 birds per minute.

While the allowable speed limit is 140 birds per minute, there are currently has 20 young chicken plants who had previously participated in that HIMP study operating at lines speeds of 175 birds per minute – and doing so effectively.

To its credit, should any of those 20 facilities decide to give up its waiver or no longer be in business, FSIS says it would allow another business to take its place as long as it was able to show it was capable of maintaining a safe product.

Rottenberg did say that FSIS would continue to monitor the process control history of the 20 businesses with the waiver, and depending on results would look again at future National Chicken Council requests for an increase in process line speeds up to 175 birds per minute.


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