Statement from Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch
Washington, D.C. – “Today, USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service published a Federal Register Notice that will permit chicken slaughter plants that have adopted a privatized inspection model, the New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS), to increase their line speeds from 140 birds per minute up to 175 birds per minute (bpm). Despite past assurances by agency officials that this Federal Register Notice would be subject to public comment, today's Notice does not contain a public comment period.
“This notice violates a provision of the final rule creating the NPIS. In that final rule, only 20 chicken plants that had been part of a pilot of the privatized inspection model were permitted to run their line speeds up to 175 bpm. All other plants that converted to NPIS could run their lines only up to 140 bpm.
“Out of 187 chicken plants eligible to convert to NPIS, as of today according to FSIS, only 70 have done so. Nearly half of those plants have operated under NPIS for less than a year.
“NPIS has not operated on wide scale and food safety problems have arisen in those plants that have converted to NPIS. Recent data show that the NPIS plants fail the agency's salmonella performance standard at a greater rate than those that have not opted into the new system, including one of the original pilot plants able to run its line speeds up to 175 bpm is a plant that has failed the government's salmonella testing program.
“Another one of the original pilot plants was forced to suspend operations in May for a whole host of food safety violations.
“Industry has been pressuring the Trump Administration to lift the line speed cap and to privatize inspection. This is a big industry win and a big loss for food safety.”
“We demand that USDA establish a formal comment period on the line speed Federal Register Notice. In the interim, people who are concerned about this drive for profits over food safety should send their comments directly to Acting USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Carmen Rottenberg at [email protected].”
Food & Water Watch champions healthy food and clean water for all. We stand up to corporations that put profits before people, and advocate for a democracy that improves people’s lives and protects our environment.
Contact: Darcey Rakestraw, 202-683-2467; [email protected]