Food safety inspection presence unaffected by office closures - FSIS

By Mark Astley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Inspection

Food safety inspection presence unaffected by office closures - FSIS
US food safety and inspection efforts will not be hit, despite plans to close a third of Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) district offices, according to the US government.

The FSIS, which is part of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), will close five district offices in five states – leaving just 10 offices open across the country, as part of a US government cost-cutting initiative.

The body, responsible for ensuring the quality and safety of meat, poultry and egg products in the US, will see offices in New York State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas and Maryland close by September 2013.

The closures are part of the USDA’s Blueprint for Stronger Service plan, which will see the closure of almost 260 offices, facilities and labs across the US. understands that the changes will impact inspection reporting structure but will not affect the inspection duties performed in the districts.

“No increased risk”

This consolidation of management offices does nothing to weaken FSIS’s statutory obligation to be in every single processing plant every single day, with an unwavering commitment to protecting American consumers,” ​Brian Mabry, FSIS acting director of congressional and public affairs, told

“It is important to note that there will be no reduction in our inspection presence, and no increased risk to consumers as a result of this announcement.”

Fifteen FSIS district offices will be consolidated into 10, and the functions previously performed at these locations will be merged with other district offices, Mabry added.

“The offices that are closing are staffed by management support personnel, not by inspectors. Our inspectors will continue to do their jobs, and the offices that support them will decrease from 15 to 10. Management personnel will continue to support inspectors from regional locations.”

Industry “ultimately responsible”

US-based food safety professor and blogger Doug Powell reiterated to that the closures were unlikely to affect food safety practices.

“Offices don’t inspect, even then inspections don’t make food safe. It is up to the producers, the processors and the retailers,” ​said Powell.

“Inspections only hold people accountable. It is up to the industry to make food safe, not the inspection services - they are ultimately responsible for the products they produce.”

The Blueprint for Stronger Service plan, which is an effort to cut spending by around $150m a year, will result in a total of 259 offices, facilities and laboratories closures.

Those affected by the closures will include the USDA headquarters in Washington, as well as facilities across 46 states and 1 US territory.

Related topics Food Safety & Quality

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