USDA SLATES HEARING ON INSPECTION OVERHAUL

WASHINGTON (FNS) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture has scheduled a six-day hearing in order to solicit more comment on its overhaul of the nation's meat and poultry inspection system.Officials from the meat and poultry industries and consumer groups will attend the hearing, which is set for Sept. 13 to 15 and Sept. 27 to 29 at USDA's headquarters here.In February USDA released a proposed blueprint

WASHINGTON (FNS) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture has scheduled a six-day hearing in order to solicit more comment on its overhaul of the nation's meat and poultry inspection system.

Officials from the meat and poultry industries and consumer groups will attend the hearing, which is set for Sept. 13 to 15 and Sept. 27 to 29 at USDA's headquarters here.

In February USDA released a proposed blueprint for revamping the inspection system, which includes using fewer line inspectors and instead emphasizing scientific testing for microbial contamination.

The plan is also based on a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point, or HACCP, approach, which identifies points in production where contamination could likely occur and untertakes preventive steps to keep it from occurring.

In addition to HACCP, issues to be discussed at the hearing will include performance standards for microbial testing, carcass cooling standards for red meat and poultry, and standard operating procedures for sanitation.

There are 6,200 federally inspected meat and poultry plants and 2,900 state-inspected plants in the United States.