Keeping tabs

Agriculture Department food safety inspectors are now equipped with laptop

computers that help them access research data and communicate vital outbreak

information more quickly to each other and, ultimately, the public.

With the computers, this mobile workforce has a far easier job inspecting

155 million carcasses of meat each year, 8.4 billion carcasses of poultry

and 3.4 billion pounds of egg products, powdered eggs and the egg ingredients

used in such products as cake mixes.

The new equipment includes 900 Dell Computer Corp. desktop computers

permanently housed at food processing plants that are inspected daily, such

as those run by Perdue Farms Inc., and 3,300 Gateway Inc. Solo notebook

PCs for inspectors to carry from site to site. Each notebook has an XGA

color screen, a 333 MHz Pentium II processor, 128M of RAM, a 6.4G hard drive

and a 56 kilobits/sec modem.

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