Meat Inspection Executive Summary

The Meat and Poultry Inspection Program within the West Virginia Department of Agriculture is a cooperative program with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The program is a 50/50 funded program; the state of West Virginia's share for fiscal year 1997 was $542,000. The program operates under federal guidelines for meat and poultry inspection. The Federal Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) also does routine comprehensive reviews of the state meat and poultry program. The most recent completed review was performed in 1992, and the program received the highest rating possible out of four categories, which is a Category 1 rating (meaning "Acceptable").

The Legislative Auditor found that 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 a plant is open for operation. The inspection begins before a plant starts operations, at which time everything in the plant is to be inspected. Inspectors are always present during slaughter of animals. Animals are inspected antemortem (before death) and postmortem (after death). The carcass is then stamped for approval if it passes inspection.

For management purposes, the inspection program has adopted the Performance Based Inspection System (PBIS). 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 which include: risk management; automated support systems; and scheduling of tasks. The Performance Based Inspection System assists in alerting the Director of the Meat and Poultry Inspection Program in early detection of any trends before they become a potential problem. The PBIS system can generate 39 reports, 16 of which are feedback reports of inspection results. These reports can provide the director information on any potential problems before they become critical, thus protecting the health and safety of consumers.

Each plant 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. In addition, meat inspectors take samples of meat products which are analyzed in the Department of Agriculture's laboratory, the South Charleston Hygienic Laboratory, the University of Kentucky Pathology, or the U.S.D.A. lab in Athens, Georgia. The Legislative Auditor concludes that the continuous inspection process and monitoring of data through the PBIS database, and the results of those reports, as well as the absence of negative epidemiological information, i.e. deaths, or incidences of meat poisonings indicates that the Meat and Poultry Inspection Program is providing for the safety of West Virginia consumers of state inspected meat and poultry products.