Food Safety Inspectors Object to Allowing Poultry Companies to do Their Own Inspections

Monday, April 09, 2012
Government inspectors of poultry plants are objecting to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s solution for revamping a flawed food inspection system.
 
Instead of federal inspectors monitoring assembly lines for unhealthy chickens, the USDA wants to expand a pilot project that allows companies to do the inspecting themselves. This would eliminate between 750 and 800 inspector positions from the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), saving the government about $30 million a year…and increasing industry profits by about $80 million annually as a result of speeded-up assembly lines.
 
According to the Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit legal-assistance group for government whistleblowers, several government inspectors who witnessed the pilot project in action say letting plant employees check the birds doesn’t work. The inspectors said they saw numerous examples of poultry plant workers allowing birds contaminated with fecal matter to pass.
 
Turning over more health-safety responsibilities to companies runs the risk of exposing more consumers to food poisoning, according to the inspectors.
 
As it is, the government’s inspection system is inadequate, allowing an average of 1.2 million cases of food poisoning by salmonella each year. The new system allows poultry plants to speed up the production line from 140 birds a minute to 200 birds a minute, making it more difficult for inspectors to keep up.
 
Elisabeth Hagen, the under secretary in charge of FSIS, defended the new system, claiming that poultry companies will do a good job of inspecting, noting “What company has an advantage when they put cosmetically unappealing products in the market place? None of them.” She says that FSIS inspectors will now have more time to evaluate the companies’ pathogen-prevention plans and bacteria-testing programs.
-David Wallechinsky, Noel Brinkerhoff
 
To Learn More:
USDA Proposes Privatizing Poultry Inspections (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Foxes Guarding Chicken Coops (and Other Food) Leads to Disease (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov) 

Comments

tumbalina 7 years ago
it's the fox watching the hen house and americans will pay dearly - once again

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