Livestock News for week of September 23

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USDA finalizes New Swine Slaughter Inspection System

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced a final rule to modernize swine slaughter inspection, allowing some establishments to use the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System. The voluntary inspection system is meant to help facilities increase line speeds while moving some FSIS inspectors to additional off-line food safety and humane handling verification tasks. Any facility can seek to adopt the new system, but it’s most suitable for large commodity operations, FSIS Deputy Undersecretary for Food Safety Mindy Brashears told Meatingplace. FSIS inspectors will continue to conduct all inspection of animals before slaughter and all carcass-by-carcass inspection, as mandated by Congress, the agency said. The biggest misconception of the new program, Brashears said, is that plant employees may pick up some inspection duties. FSIS wants to cut back on the number of line inspectors in favor of Consumer Safety Inspectors and veterinarians, “with more education and experience and training,” she said. The new rule also amends regulations to require all swine slaughter establishments to develop written sanitary dressing plans and implement microbial sampling to monitor process control for enteric pathogens that can cause foodborne illness.

FDA calls meeting to discuss future food safety plans

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will hold a public meeting to discuss the agency’s approach to implementing the Food Safety and Modernization Act, Meat + Poultry reported. The meeting is scheduled for October 21 in Rockville, Maryland. The agency is calling its modern approach “A New Era of Smarter Food Safety,” building on early progress made to implement the new act while incorporating digital technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence and sensors. The FDA says new and emerging technologies will lead to a more transparent, traceable and safer food system. The upcoming public meeting is supposed to serve as a platform for input about the agency’s plans. “We intend for the strategic plan to outline how this new approach will address public health challenges, including being able to trace sources of contaminated foods and using new predictive analytics tools like artificial intelligence to assess risks and prioritize the agency’s work and resources,” FDA said in the meeting notice.

South Korea reports first outbreak of African swine fever

South Korea is the latest country in Asia to report that African swine fever has infected a swine herd, after five pigs found dead at a farm near the North Korea border tested positive. A top veterinary official in the country confirmed the outbreak with the World Organisation for Animal Health. More than 2,400 pigs were culled on the farm near Paju, in addition to 1,500 pigs on two other farms owned by the same producer, to prevent further spread. The agriculture ministry ordered a nationwide ban on hog movement for 48 hours while officials investigated the source of the virus. In May, North Korea informed the World Organisation for Animal Health that it had detected its first ASF outbreak at the Buksang cooperative farm near the border with China.

Ag looks for seat at climate change talks

The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis has launched a formal request for information from stakeholders as it drafts policy recommendations for Congress to take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Among the panel’s questions for stakeholders are some specifically related to agriculture and forestry, Feedstuffs reported. The North America Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance said it will organize a team to develop a draft submission and urged member organizations to submit information relevant to their own fields. The House committee is asking agriculture stakeholders what policies Congress should adopt to reduce carbon pollution and other emissions and maximize carbon storage in agriculture. The committee also wants feedback on possible policies to help farmers, ranchers and natural resource managers adapt to the impacts of climate change. “This request from the House Select Committee is a remarkable opportunity for us not only to contribute to the discussion but also to have a genuine voice in the deployment of policies that can underscore our contributions to stemming climate change,” said Fred Yoder, chair of the agriculture alliance.

Ohio ban on VS-infected horses revised

The Ohio Department of Agriculture announced a revision to a ban on horses infected with vesicular stomatitis entering the state. Initially, horses from counties in seven states that had animals infected with the illness wouldn’t be allowed to enter Ohio at all. Now, horses from affected counties will be permitted into the state as long as they have a note from a veterinarian verifying their health, WFMJ reported. Vesicular stomatitis is a viral disease that primarily affects horses but can infect other livestock like cattle and swine. It causes blister-like lesions that burst and leave open wounds and is extremely painful to animals; it can result in the inability to eat and drink, as well as lameness. It’s highly contagious, most often transmitted through insect bites. States with confirmed or suspected cases are Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.