USDA Moved Poultry Inspection to a Privatized System and What Do You Suppose Happened?
SPECIAL REPORT by Heather Callaghan, Editor
“…company employees in some plants miss so many defective carcasses that the USDA inspectors at the end of the line have to stop to make sure they don’t reach consumers.”
Before you bite into that chicken sandwich – before you step foot in another Chick-Fil-A – JUST STOP!
There’s something you didn’t know about our food system. Sure, if you read our site every day, you know that the food system has resembled a wobbling Jenga stack for quite some time. You know that livestock animals are tortured, pumped full of drugs and antibiotics, brutally killed, treated with chemicals, and then their waste run-off creates toxic waterways.
How bad is it? America’s food system is so bad that Russia used our food supply as an example for why Europe should run screaming from any U.S. trade agreements. That may sound like a punchline, but it’s no joke.
So who was inspecting U.S. poultry before…?
The USDA. To a certain extent. For instance, although the USDA promised to make sure that poultry exported to China for processing would be safe when it was imported back to the U.S. – it was quietly revealed that there was no intention to have on-site inspectors despite reports of unsanitary factory conditions in China. (Source) That’s just one area the government just “forgot” to check on to make sure processed meat imports are actually safe when they return. Some of the imports are rejected for pesticides, bacteria and filth. And I know… the whole import/export/import thing is crazy enough as it is.
This is to say nothing of the conditions of U.S. poultry slaughter and processing houses.
So who’s guarding U.S. poultry inspection now?
The processing plants themselves. To a certain extent.
According to a new press release from Food & Water Watch, USDA inspectors are pressured to keep line speeds up under the privatized inspection system.
In other words, there are a lot of horrifying mistakes are being let through to the final inspection. That means the odds are greater that a consumer might receive a disgusting chicken. What is causing this to happen??
…if you keep reading, it sounds like we’ve really have gone back to Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle.
On August 7,
…Food & Water Watch sent a letter to USDA’s Acting Under Secretary for Food Safety to draw attention to a disturbing situation taking place in many large poultry slaughter plants, where USDA inspectors with the agency’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) are being pressured by their supervisors not to stop slaughter lines when problems occur.
The letter outlines what is occurring in many poultry slaughter plants that are participating in the New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS), which allows company employees to perform food safety inspection tasks that were formerly the responsibility of USDA inspectors.
“When the USDA launched this new privatized inspection system, it did not require company employees to receive additional training before getting responsibility for sorting out potentially unsafe meat,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “But now we are hearing from USDA inspectors that company employees in some plants miss so many defective carcasses that the USDA inspectors at the end of the line have to stop to make sure they don’t reach consumers.”
“I have been an inspector for over 30 years and inspection has deteriorated because FSIS management has permitted it to do so,” said Stan Painter, Chairman of the National Joint Council of Food Inspection Local Unions. “We are rapidly heading backwards to The Jungle of 1906.”
The problems that company employees are supposed to catch include visible fecal contamination on the carcass, scabs, burns, bruises, tumors, exudate (pus), sores, and breast blisters. Inspectors in some NPIS plants have reported being admonished by USDA supervisors for stopping the line too frequently and having company management monitor the number of times they stop the line. [emphasis added]
Inspectors who are paid by the U.S. taxpayer to do their jobs are being forced in between a rock and hard place. What else are they to do but to stand down?
These line speeds go up 175 birds per minute. Think about it. Would you be able to fully inspect 3 chickens per second?
It sounds like inspectors are being pressured by their USDA supervisors to stop doing their jobs and to hold back so as to let company employees decide what ends up on a dinner plate – but without any extra training or oversight. The plants where these problems have been occurring were a part of the original pilot program for privatized inspection, the HACCP-based Inspection Models Project. Even though one of these pilot establishments was recently suspended for violations, the USDA is intending to move forward with expansion of line speed waivers for NPIS plants. That’s what Food & Water Watch is hoping to stop with their letter.
I need to point out that this arrangement is actually a marriage of government and corporation. It appears that USDA upper management are acting as frontrunners for Big Food and perhaps that is why they are pressuring their own employees to speed up or stand down. Sure, it’s a privatized system, but it’s the USDA that is blaming inspectors for finding problems instead of the root cause.
Something’s got to give.
It’s time people find out about food processing conditions NOW before they bite into a chicken cordon bleu only to find out that the stuff oozing from the middle isn’t actually cheese.
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Heather Callaghan is an Energy Healer, consultant, independent researcher/writer, speaker and food & health freedom advocate. She is the Editor and co-founder of NaturalBlaze as well as a certified Self-Referencing IITM Practitioner. She has written over 1,200 articles and wants readers to empower themselves to take back their health!