The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) released a Strategic Plan for 2017-2021 that includes five poultry inspection innovations and more, aimed at preventing the contamination of meat and poultry with foodborne pathogens and limiting human illnesses from regulated products.

  1. Public Health Risk Evaluations (PHREs) are a new decision-making process to determine whether a Food Safety Assessment (FSA) needs to be scheduled at a regulated establishment. The PHRE includes 17 prioritized determinants, with the most important being a human illness linked to an FSIS-regulated product. Other determinants range from such things as an establishment having produced and shipped adulterated or misbranded products involved in a recall to there being a change in the establishment’s production process that may impact public health.
  2. Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) capacity is being developed to identify and respond to human illness outbreaks, conduct trace backs, and study the environmental harborage and movement of pathogens in processing facilities. The WGS analytics will be used to develop individualized inspection strategies for certain food pathogens and to inform the need for establishments to enhance sanitary practices and programs. The agency plans to share what it learns – including information about antimicrobial resistance in bacteria – with collaborating partners to prevent these pathogens from adulterating food throughout the farm to fork continuum.
  3. Early Warning Alerts to FSIS inspection personnel will help them identify patterns and trends in noncompliance at meat and poultry facilities. The focus is on leading establishments to take necessary corrective actions sooner upon sign of an emerging concern or non-compliance trend. This is part of a broader initiative to improve the collection, access and timely distribution of information to facilitate communications among headquarters and field employees.
  4. New real-time analytical tools are to be developed for use by inspection personnel to detect microbiological hazards on-site.
  5. Unified testing of samples will taken in poultry and meat facilities to detect for multiple biological and chemical hazards in one sample.

FSIS says the focus is on goals, outcomes, objectives and performance measures that can be used to track success in the new strategic plan.