Clarification: An earlier version of this story did not fully detail the rule-making process for the proposed poultry inspection program. The story has been clarified.
The USDA has used incomplete and antiquated data in support of its plan to extend new poultry inspection procedures to plants across the country, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office scheduled for public release on Wednesday.
As a result, there are “questions about the validity” of the USDA’s conclusions that the procedures, now used by a limited number of poultry plants under a pilot program, are more effective than the traditional approach at reducing pathogens such as salmonella, the GAO found.
The report was requested by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who previously expressed concerns about the pilot program because it allows plants to dramatically speed up processing lines and replace many USDA inspectors with poultry company employees. For decades, government poultry inspectors have been stationed along processing lines to identify contaminated and diseased carcasses.