The White House budget proposal released late last week praised Trump-era rules that allow hog slaughter plants to primarily put their own company employees — instead of federal government inspectors — in charge of finding and removing fecal matter and digestive contents on hog carcasses.
The announcement suggests that there are no immediate plans to alter this program under the Biden administration.
A Food & Water Watch analysis released in February found that plants operating under a pilot program for the new rules (the so-called “Modernization” of Swine Slaughter Inspection) had nearly double the violations than comparably-sized plants outside the program and were almost twice as likely to be cited for contamination.
While the administration recently notified plants that had switched to the new system that they would have to reduce their line speeds after the USDA lost a lawsuit challenging parts of the new rules, other provisions pertaining to inspection responsibilities are unaffected by this litigation. Due to the reduction in government inspections under the new rules, federal inspectors under the new rules are still getting half the time to inspect hog heads, viscera, and carcasses compared to in traditional plants.
Food & Water Watch Senior Staff Attorney Zach Corrigan issued the following statement in response:
“Meat companies should not be left to police themselves to protect consumers from dirty and dangerous pork products. Instead of undoing yet another dangerous legacy of the Trump administration, the Biden White House is ostensibly embracing them as its own, exposing consumers to more pork contaminated with potentially pathogenic fecal matter. If the Biden administration really seeks to promote this threat to safe food, Congress must step in and eliminate funding for this program.”