The new plan, which the USDA says would provide the government with the opportunity to protect consumers from unsafe food more effectively, has caused some concern among those who think it might negatively affect health and safety of the American public. "We recognize that this proposal would represent a significant change from the current system and has sparked a debate on how poultry is inspected," said Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, under secretary for food safety. "We also value the different opinions being expressed about the proposal and have extended the public comment period to ensure all sides are presented in this debate."
The increased emphasis on food safety tasks proposed under the rule is consistent with the agency’s focus on foodborne illness prevention, said Hagen. Instead of focusing on quality assurance, inspectors will be able to ensure plants are maintaining sanitary conditions and that food safety hazards are being reduced throughout the entire production process. "Over the years we have seen — again and again — the need to modernize to keep pace with the latest science and threats," she said. "This poultry slaughter modernization proposal is about protecting public health, plain and simple, and I encourage stakeholders and the public to read the proposal and then let us know what you think."