The Obama administration is attempting to cut down on thousands of foodborne illnesses linked to chicken and turkey each year with an overhaul of poultry plant inspection rules that are more than 50 years old.
Final rules announced Thursday would reduce the number of government poultry inspectors. Those who remain will focus more on food safety than on quality, requiring them to pull more birds off the line for closer inspections and encouraging more testing for pathogens. More inspectors would check facilities to make sure they are clean.
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The Agriculture Department says the move could cut down on 5,000 foodborne illnesses annually. The changes would be voluntary, but many of the country's largest poultry companies are expected to opt in. The chicken and turkey industries swiftly praised the new rules.