Statement of Dr. Richard Raymond, USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety: Risk-Based Inspection at Processing Establishments

"With the announcement of a tentative timetable for the implementation of a more robust risk-based inspection system in processing establishments, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is once again demonstrating its determination and commitment to a transparent and inclusive process.

"As I indicated based on comments received from stakeholders at a two-day public meeting in October, FSIS intends to gradually implement risk-based inspection in a careful and deliberative manner. We are proposing that beginning in April, FSIS inspection program personnel will begin performing food safety verification procedures based on risk in 30 prototype locations, performing inspection tasks for the first time based on an objective measurement of a plant’s inspection track record and the relative risk of what is produced. FSIS inspection program personnel will be applying their knowledge, training and experience in a way that we believe will further protect public health. FSIS will conduct ongoing analysis of the tasks inspectors perform in these locations without computer-driven task scheduling. Improvements will be identified and implemented. If all goes well at the 30 prototype locations, the number will be gradually expanded to 150 locations by the end of this calendar year.