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November 21st, 2012

Cobbler and Gobbler Spared the Fate of Privatized Meat Inspection

By Tony Corbo 

The White House turkey pardoning ceremony, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

As the White House pardons two lucky turkeys today—Gobbler and Cobbler—I’m reminded of the fact that some months ago, I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for information on the Virginia Cargill plant that the birds likely would have been processed (if not for the pardon). The results are in, and they aren’t pretty. The Cargill plant in Rockingham County, Virginia (where Cobbler and Gobbler are from) was cited for fecal contamination multiple times (see pages 1-4 of this PDF). 

It’s no wonder. The plant is part of a pilot project for HIMP, the HACCP-Based Inspection Models Project. It’s a USDA pilot project that allows workers in poultry plants to self-inspect, essentially privatizing food safety inspections. Line speeds in HIMP turkey slaughter plants are 72% faster than in plants that receive normal USDA inspection. USDA has proposed to expand the HIMP inspection model to all poultry plants.

As you sit down for Thanksgiving tomorrow, you might give thanks for the fact that there are two less turkeys from HIMP project plants on America’s tables.

Take action today—tell USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to reject privatized meat inspections.

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