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For Immediate Release

August 14, 2014
Steve Merritt
Public Information Officer
Montana Department of Livestock
406-444-9431

MDOL Meat & Poultry Inspection Program Undergoes Federal Review

The Montana Department of Livestock’s Meat & Poultry inspection program recently underwent a federal review after a 10-day USDA-Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) visit that focused on inspections of meat processors around the state.

“We were told that the program is in the best shape it has been in years,” said Gary Hamel, Meat & Poultry Inspection Bureau chief at DOL. “It’s a testament to our staff, and to the meat processors we work with.”

The review was conducted in June, and included on-site inspections of seven randomly selected meat processing facilities. During the inspections, each establishment’s food safety system was examined in detail – sanitation standards, record keeping, inspection methodology and pathogen intervention efforts – to determine if Montana meat inspectors are engaged with business owners in conducting effective, thorough inspections.

Overall, just 10 “findings” were reported during the on-site inspections.

“Most of the findings were related to record keeping, and were not considered serious in nature,” Hamel said. “It shows that our inspectors are out there working with businesses, and that businesses are working with us, to remedy problems quickly.”

Corrective action plans have been established, as required, to address the minor issues identified during the review, he added.

“The bottom line,” Hamel said, “is that local Montana meat establishments strive to produce the safe and healthy meat and poultry products that consumers demand.”

Montana is one of 27 states that maintains a meat inspection program, and on-site reviews are required by FSIS every three years. Montana’s program is known as an “equal to” program, meaning that the state provides inspection services that are at least equal to the inspection services provided by USDA in federally licensed plants.

Montana currently has 39 state-inspected plants.

The department’s Meat & Poultry Inspection Bureau exists to ensure that meat, poultry, meat products and poultry products slaughtered, processed and/or stored in Montana meet state and federal requirements. This is accomplished through product and site inspections, licensing, product labeling and laboratory testing done in cooperation with other state and federal agencies.

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