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Meat inspectors to install satellite dishes at key plants

By Ahmed ElAmin , 10-Oct-2006

About 2,000 meat and poultry processing plants have been given notice they must make space available for satellite dishes that will be used by federal food safety inspectors.

The plan, a move to make inspections easier, is detailed in a notification published this month in the Federal Register by the US agriculture department's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The notice is an advisory to the affected plants that they must provide space on their premises for the agency to install a satellite dish communications disk.

FSIS said the satellite dishes are essential for its inspectors to conduct efficient inspection. FSIS explained that the satellite dishes would only be installed at processing plants under special circumstances.

 

"Because the use of information technology has become an integral part of FSIS' inspection process, FSIS has determined that inspection personnel must have reliable, high-speed Internet access to more efficiently and effectively perform their duties," the agency stated inits notice. "FSIS intends to use satellite technology to provide high-speed Internet access to inspection personnel in approximately 2,000 establishments nationwide."

 

About 7,600 FSIS inspectors are assigned to inspect about 6,500 meat, poultry, and egg processingplants across the US. Of the 2,000 plants targeted for satellite installation about 700 are located in remote, rural areas that do not have access tobroadband. The remaining sites are in areas that have access to other Internet technologies but where broadband satelliteat a lower cost and has greater coverage, the FSIS stated.

 

"The satellite link would allow inspectors to record a facility's daily food-safety and humane-handling verification activities, track the status of product samples, electronically access and retrieve documents that contain information they need to properly perform their inspection duties, such as FSIS regulations, directives, notices, and technical references, participate in computer-based on-line training, and obtain timely updates on inspectionissues," the agency stated in the notice.

 

Plants will not have to pay for installation of the FSIS' satellite technology. The agency will pay for all equipment and installation of the satellite service.

 

To obtain satellite Internet service, the Agency must first install a satellite dish on the outside premises ofplants where it intends to use the technology. In circumstances where FSIS has decided to use broadband satellite technology, theagency expects meat and poultry establishments to provide space on the premises.

 

Under federal regulations, meat and poultry establishments must provide office space rent free for government personnel to use for official purposes.

 

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