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Meat Institute: NBC Story on NSIS: Long on Drama, Short on Facts

Monday, December 16, 2019
 

WASHINGTON, DC – The North American Meat Institute (Meat Institute) today issued the following statement in response to the NBC News story entitled: “ Inspectors Warn Unsafe Pork Could Make its Way to Consumers Under Trump Rule Change ,”:

“Starting with the title, there are many falsehoods and mischaracterizations in NBC’s reporting on pork inspection in the United States.

“In a blatant attempt to politicize food inspection, NBC ignores the fact that the New Swine Inspection System (NSIS) has been studied and proposed over the last three presidential administrations, and it gets worse from there.

“America’s meat and poultry packers and processors have every incentive to ensure their products are safe. Food safety is the number one priority in both NSIS and traditional pork plants.

“Over the last 50 years, huge advancements in food science, animal handling and meat processing have been embraced and deployed by the meat and poultry industry. In that time, incidence of certain pathogens and injuries to workers have decreased dramatically.

“In both NSIS and traditional systems, facilities may not operate in a way that jeopardizes food safety or worker safety. 100 percent of all animals and carcasses are inspected by a Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) federal inspector. FSIS inspectors have the authority to slow or stop the production line at any time. Line speeds are routinely adjusted to compensate for things like staffing shortages and other variables.

“Another inconvenient truth NBC ignores because it does not fit their narrative is that in the 15 years FSIS spent testing this system, the pilot plants averaged line speeds of 1,099 head per hour, less than the line speed allowed in the traditional system which is 1,106 head per hour.

“Also, it is irresponsible journalism to simply rely on individuals who have an obvious agenda and will issue a falsehood that is ignorant of federal law and basic plant operations. For example, one participant in the story said, ‘The consumer's being duped. They believe that it actually is getting federally inspected when there's no one there to even watch or do anything about anything.’

“The facts are that in every federally inspected plant, FSIS inspectors are on the line, with the ability to affect line speeds and to determine which products enter commerce because they are inspecting 100 percent of animals and 100 percent of carcasses.

“It is unfortunate that NBC missed an opportunity to inform its viewers of the numerous systems in place and the initiatives taken by the meat and poultry industry to ensure their products are safe and wholesome. Instead, NBC chose to manufacture a crisis and instill fear among consumers at the holidays.

“The bias of the story is clear from the fact that after the story’s first airing, the producer went to Twitter and thanked the special interest groups NBC worked with on the story -- groups who have long been hostile to animal agriculture.

“Americans should continue to enjoy meat and poultry and trust a food safety system where both the industry and the regulator have the same goal: to ensure the food we feed our families is safe.”

For more information on NSIS see our Meat Institute Fact Sheet and Q and A.

The North American Meat Institute is the leading voice for the meat and poultry industry. The Meat Institute’s members process the vast majority of U.S. beef, pork, lamb, and poultry, as well as manufacture the equipment and ingredients needed to produce the safest and highest quality meat and poultry products.

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