Statement from Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch
Washington, D.C. – “Today Food & Water Watch joins food inspectors, other food safety advocates and consumers in front of the U.S. Department of Agriculture headquarters to protest plans to privatize and hasten the inspection of poultry slaughter plants. The USDA wants to cut back on its meat and poultry inspection program and let company employees do the job currently done by 800 professional federal inspectors.
“Cutting the budget does not justify putting the health and safety of consumers and workers in the balance. USDA inspectors receive extensive training to protect public health in poultry facilities, but there is no similar requirement for company employees to receive training before they assume these inspection responsibilities in the proposed privatized inspection system. This short-sided thinking could actually cost the federal government more to deal with a potential increase in foodborne illnesses caused by unsanitary, defective poultry and meat.
“A recent Food & Water Watch analysis of a pilot program for these cuts found an appalling amount of defective and unsanitary poultry contaminated with feces, bile and feathers got through. But a federal inspector said it best when he/she answered a Food & Water Watch survey:
‘It seems that over the decades of food inspection the standard of wholesomeness has dropped:
- In the 1970’s we condemned for fecal!
- In the 1980’s we trimmed the fecal!
- In the 1990’s we washed the fecal!
- And now in the 2000’s we eat the fecal!’
“Our government should be working to protect our families from unsafe food, not allowing more to enter our food supply.”
The rally will take place today, April 2, from 11:30a.m. to 12:30p.m. EDT in front of the USDA building’s visitor entrance on Jefferson Drive SW. Photos from the rally will be available afterwards.