Food safety legislation was introduced Thursday in the Senate that seeks to preserve current staffing levels of USDA inspectors in meat plants at the same time the agency promotes a new model that would cut the federal inspection force by as much as half.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), the bill's sponsor, said the measure also would ensure that each carcass in the nation’s poultry, beef and hog plants is checked by a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector before it is processed and sent to consumers.