Changes Underway To Correct Inadequacies in Florida's Meat and Poultry Inspection Program

RCED-83-70: Published: Dec 30, 1982. Publicly Released: Jan 31, 1983.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed Florida's meat and poultry inspection program, focusing attention on deficiencies found by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and on Florida's actions with respect to these and other deficiencies found by its own compliance personnel.

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service inspects interstate meat and poultry plants to ensure the safety and accurate labeling of products. It also monitors State inspection programs which must be at least equal to those of the Federal Government. GAO noted that the service's ratings of the Florida program for the past 3 years were consistently lower than other State programs and showed no significant improvement trend. Deficiencies involved violations of Federal acts pertaining to interstate export, improper use of USDA and State inspection marks, and misbranding and mislabeling of products. GAO learned that, in 1982, Florida established an organization to monitor compliance with its inspection laws and regulations, and it formalized the State's procedures for following up on deficiencies found by USDA. A small number of violations were classified by this unit as serious and involved processing without State inspection or selling uninspected meat. Although these efforts by the State were too recent to be reflected in current USDA ratings, GAO believes that the changes in meat and poultry inspection in Florida indicate that the State has taken positive steps to upgrade its program.

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