The program is also responsible for the licensing of these commercial establishments. Licensing fees are set up by average number of animals slaughtered per year or by average number of finished product poundage processed per year. Tables 1 and 2 below shows the number of slaughter and meat and poultry licenses that have been issued for FY 97.
|Class||Avg. Slaughtered Per Year||No. of Licenses||Annual Fee|
|Small||1 - 500||12||$10.00|
|Medium||501 - 1,000||6||$25.00|
|Large||1,001 - 5,000||3||$50.00|
|Extra Large||Over 5,000||0||$75.00|
|Class||Avg. Poundage Processed Per Year||No. of Licenses||Annual Fee|
|Small||1 - 25,000||14||$10.00|
|Medium||25,001 - 250,000||9||$25.00|
|Large||250,001 - 1,000,000||4||$50.00|
|Extra Large||Over 1,000,000||2||$75.00|
Cooperation with the U.S.D.A.
The state Meat and Poultry Inspection Program is a cooperative program with the
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The program is a 50/50 funded program,
with the state's contribution being $542,000 for fiscal year 1997. West Virginia is one of 26
states that have state inspected cooperative programs, and the state meat inspection program
falls under federal guidelines for meat and poultry inspection. Hawaii and Maryland are two
states that the federal government recently took over. According to federal officials, the option
of a state program is up to the individual states. The director of the state meat program states
that the advantage to having a state meat inspection program is that the state inspectors can be
more responsive than Federal officials. For example, if there are lesions on a carcass of an animal,
usually the state inspected program can have one of the veterinarians on staff on site within the
day, whereas the federal program would take much longer. Also, as a division of the Department
of Agriculture, the Meat and Poultry Inspection Program is charged with the promotion of
agricultural businesses in West Virginia. The Department of Agriculture wants and allows
businesses in West Virginia to prosper and spread their wings, whereas the Federal program is
not as concerned - because of its size - about individual business in West Virginia. Also, if a
processor or slaughter facility needed to change its hours of operation, the state program would
promote and assist the individual business owner in providing meat inspection during those
The Federal Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) also does routine comprehensive reviews of the state meat and poultry inspection program. The most recent review by the U.S.D.A. was in 1992 and the program received a Category 1 rating meaning "Acceptable", which is the highest rating possible out of four category ratings. A letter from the Deputy Administrator of USDA Inspection Operations congratulated the Commissioner of Agriculture on "a very successful inspection system."
The program also recently underwent a comprehensive federal review, and a member of the review team stated that the category 1 rating would most likely stay in place, since she found no deficiencies in the state program.
Issue Area 1: The Meat and Poultry Inspection Program is Providing for the Safety
of Consumers of West Virginia Meat and Poultry Products.
Meat and Poultry inspectors engage in daily inspection on each day that a plant is in operation. The inspection begins before a plant starts operations, and everything in the plant is to be inspected. Plants are also required to be cleaned after operations end, and the inspector also checks to make sure the plant wasn't cleaned immediately before his arrival. Any equipment that the inspector feels does not meet his approval can be given a yellow rejection tags which can only be taken off by the inspector. That equipment cannot be used until the yellow tagged equipment has been cleaned and meets the inspectors approval. Inspectors are always present during slaughter of animals. Animals are inspected antemortem (before death), and postmortem (after death). Antemortem inspection includes inspecting the animal by sight while the animal is in motion. This allows the inspector to visually detect whether the animal shows any signs of illness. After slaughter, the head of the animal is removed from the carcass, and the inspector makes a routine inspection for lesions, and any abnormalities. Also, the carcass' liver, kidneys, heart, lungs, spleen, and lymphatic system are inspected. The carcass is then stamped for approval if it passes inspection. If the carcass is not passed for human consumption, it is denatured with blue dye or charcoal in the inspector's presence. In processing plants, among other things, inspectors are checking for cleanliness of equipment used, temperature of refrigeration units, and temperature during cooking if applicable.
The West Virginia Meat and Poultry Inspection Program's management information system, the Performance Based Inspection System (PBIS) was adopted on July 1, 1996. PBIS is a computer based inspection system that uses software provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service. This system provides three important functions for inspectors and inspection officials:
1. Risk management: Determines the degree of risk and type of process and other
factors to help determine the degree of oversight necessary to meet safety
2. Automated support systems: Provides the director of the meat and poultry inspection program with computer generated reports that can help determine the extent of how well plants and inspectors are controlling operations and sanitation.
3. Scheduling of tasks: Automatically targets inspection tasks for each inspector which allows the director to establish oversight and target priorities on the most vital of tasks which can be critical to the safety of meat and poultry consumers. This computerized scheduling of tasks also allows the director better management of time and employees. The schedule also allows for unscheduled tasks to be performed at the discretion of the individual inspector.
According to documentation provided from the director of the Meat and Poultry Inspection Program, the system works by providing inspectors with an assignment schedule that describes the tasks to be performed at a particular plant and estimated time needed for each task. Forms are filled out for each day's tasks and inspection results are placed on each form. PBIS provides strong data support for monitoring meat inspection, identifying tasks for inspections, and alerting the Director of areas of concern. The forms are mailed by each inspector to the main office at the Guthrie Center where the data is entered. The computer software generates inspection tasks for each plant for the next week. From this data, reports for the director can be generated to assist him in determining the status of meat inspection throughout the state.
The inspector written assignment schedule forms with inspection results are then filed by plant in a filing cabinet. These forms, as shown in Appendix A, allow an inspection result of acceptable, minor, major, critical or non-performance. Any deficiencies recorded by the inspector are reflected on a Process Deficiency Record (PDR) also shown in Appendix A. Within this Performance Deficiency Record are three classifications:
The Performance Based Inspection System assists in alerting the Director of the Meat and Poultry Inspection Program to early detection to any trends before they become a potential problem. The report in Appendix C shows an example of a quarterly report for plant inspection and type of conditions. If a report indicates that a certain plant is being regularly cited, the director can take action before it becomes a critical problem threatening the health and safety of consumers. In essence, PBIS is a valuable early detection system. This system also shows that inspectors are doing their job, because plants are cited for violations, and the director is aware of deficiencies in the plants.
Each plant also undergoes an annual comprehensive review involving three inspectors. This team includes the Assistant Director of the meat program, one of the veterinary supervisors, and another inspector. This review provides the director and supervisors with information on each plant in order to correct any citations. Table 3 below is a summary of FY 1997 establishment reviews. There are 11 categories under review, each with separate subcategories. As the table shows, in FY 1997 the reviews found the meat and poultry facilities were in compliance 1,640 times. The establishments were cited 187 times for minimum variances, and only 2 times for maximum variances.
|Compliance||Minimum Variance||Maximum Variance||N/A|
|Facilities and Equipment||512||119||0||96|
|Pest & Rodent Control||44||9||2||0|
|Receiving & Storage (Incoming)||155||3||0||9|
|Condemned/Inedible Product Control||86||6||0||22|
|Marks of Inspection||98||6||0||5|
|Finished Product Analysis||70||0||0||37|
|Storage & Shipping||83||4||0||17|
|Quality Control Program||0||0||0||27|
The Legislative Auditor finds that the state cooperative Meat and Poultry Inspection Program is providing the citizens of West Virginia with the proper inspection of meat products. Inspectors are always on site during the slaughter of animals, and inspect these animals before and after death. Also, inspectors engage in daily inspections on each day that a plant is in operation. The Performance Based Inspection System provides inspectors and management with a valuable tool and process in inspecting meat and poultry slaughterhouse and processing facilities. It also assists the director in early detection of trends in a plant or an inspector before a problem occurs. This compilation of data and the process of inspection, along with data from the WV Bureau of Health, and results of the Federal Food Safety Inspection Service as mentioned in the Mission Statement are evidence that the consumption of meat products by WV producers is safe due in part to the work of the Meat and Poultry Inspection Program.
The Legislature should continue and reestablish the Meat and Poultry Inspection Program within the Department of Agriculture.