Learn how you can stop the deregulation of meat inspections
The size and speed of meatpacking plants have skyrocketed over the last several decades. This makes it harder to ensure that meat and poultry are produced safely and for government inspectors to examine it. The industry wants to rely on chemicals like chlorine, tri-sodium phosphate (normally used to clean cement) and hypobromous acid (used to clean swimming pools) to try to treat poultry for salmonella and sterilize feces that might still be on carcasses. And now, the meat industry, and some people in Congress, are pushing for a privatized meat inspection system, where company employees are responsible for inspecting meat and poultry for safety.
But meat inspection is critical for a safe food supply, and it shouldn’t be deregulated. Consumers need government inspectors to watch over the industry and make sure that dangerous bugs like E. coli and salmonella don’t contaminate our food. Food & Water Watch has fought for years to maintain a strong, well-funded government meat inspection system to ensure food safety.
Privatized Poultry Inspection: The USDA’s Filthy Chicken Rule
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is pushing the “Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection” rule, but we think a more apt name would be the “Filthy Chicken Rule.” The rule, if implemented, would privatize poultry inspections, decreasing the number of USDA inspectors in plants and replacing them with untrained company employees. It would also allow line speeds to go from 140 birds a minute to 175 birds a minute.
This system has been in place in a handful of slaughter facilities since 1998 in a pilot project called the HACCP-based Inspection Model Project (HIMP). The majority of these pilot plants are young chicken slaughter plants, but there are also turkey and market hog slaughter plants included in the pilot.
Food & Water Watch requested testing results from USDA under the Freedom of Information Act in August 2011. Read what we found out about the food safety track record in these plants.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has questioned the results from the pilot study. The GAO report, requested by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), evaluated 20 young chicken and five young turkey plants and reveals gaping methodological flaws in the pilot project. The GAO also questioned how the USDA could use its flawed evaluation of the pilot project as the basis to propose expanding the privatized inspection model across the entire poultry industry.