Improved Management of Import Meat Inspection Program Needed

Gao ID: RCED-83-81 June 15, 1983

GAO reviewed the Department of Agriculture's administration of its import Meat and Poultry Inspection Program.

GAO found that, at the 10 highest-volume ports, where variances in the quantities of meat rejected ranged from 0.1 to 1.5 percent, procedures for controlling, sampling, and inspecting meat products differed because of: (1) regulations and instructions which were generally outdated, unclear, and inconsistent; (2) a lack of adequate supervision and training of inspection personnel; and (3) work-load imbalance. The Automated Import Information System compiles inspection-result histories for countries and foreign plants. These histories are the basis for assigning the scope and extent of inspections. GAO found that, in some ways, regulations and instructions do not conform with the system's revised procedures. GAO and Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) officials found that most inspectors cited the need for periodic training and better communication between inspectors from different ports as a way of standardizing inspections. Despite the apparent improvement in plant conditions, program changes are needed to better ensure that products are imported only from countries and plants meeting U.S. requirements. Recognizing the need for increased attention to foreign programs' regulatory comparability, FSIS is developing a new systems approach for approving and monitoring foreign inspection systems. GAO believes that the new system should improve FSIS ability to assess these risks.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

Director: John W. Harman Team: General Accounting Office: Resources, Community, and Economic Development Division Phone: (202) 512-5138

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