December 23, 2010

USDA Announces New Ombuds Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will implement several measures to ensure the humane treatment and slaughter of cattle processed at facilities inspected by the Food Safety and Inspection Service. These measures will include an Ombuds for FSIS employees.

The USDA announcement said it will be:
Appointing an Ombudsman in the Office of Food Safety, designated specifically for humane handling issues. The ombudsman will provide FSIS employees a channel of communication to voice their concerns when the standard reporting mechanisms do not adequately address outstanding issues.
The Ombuds program was recommended by a Senate Committee last year, which also said that the Ombuds should "be independent from FSIS, reporting directly to the Under Secretary for Food Safety." Today's announcement, however, does not indicate the reporting line for the new FSIS Ombuds office. (USDA News Release; Senate Committee Report.)

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