Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

'Dangerous Proposal': USDA Seeking to Replace Government Inspectors at Beef Slaughter Plants With Private Employees

Food
'Dangerous Proposal': USDA Seeking to Replace Government Inspectors at Beef Slaughter Plants With Private Employees
USDA Food Safety Inspection Service inspector examines frozen meat in New Orleans. U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr

By Julia Conley

In an apparent effort to boost profits for meat manufacturers despite potential harms to food safety, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is reportedly planning to privatize inspections of beef slaughter plants.


Food and Water Watch reported Monday that the USDA is pursuing deregulation of the food inspection system that has been used for years at beef slaughterhouses. The information came from documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

The group released an application from beef, pork, and poultry manufacturer Tyson Foods, in which the company requested a waiver to allow Tyson employees to conduct more inspections at its beef plant in Holcolm, Kansas, instead of relying on USDA food safety inspectors.

"This dangerous proposal could rid beef slaughter plants of most government inspectors," Food and Water Watch said in a statement.

The documents were uncovered after many recent denials by USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) that it plans to privatize inspections of mass-produced beef, Food and Water Watch stated.

Tyson's proposal comes 21 years after FSIS first launched a pilot program in more than two dozen poultry and pork plants in which government food safety inspectors were replaced by the manufacturers' own inspectors, allowing the companies to regulate themselves.

In 2013, the USDA's inspector general found that the agency "did not critically assess whether the new inspection process had measurably improved food safety at each plant" that produced pork.

The following year, FSIS expanded the program to the entire poultry industry. The agency will not conduct an assessment of the new system's effects on food safety until 2022.

"The previous attempts at privatized inspection have led to weaker food safety performance and are a ploy by the industry to increase line speeds," said Tony Corbo, a senior lobbyist with Food and Water Watch.

Despite a lack of evidence that the privatized food safety inspection system is making food safer — and CDC data showing that foodborne illnesses from foods including chicken have been on the rise since 2015 — FSIS is weakening standards in order to increase the speed with which meat is processed, allowing for greater manufacturing profits.

"The Tyson plant in Holcomb, Kansas is approved to operate at the current maximum line speed allowable" said Corbo. "FSIS management has had difficulty meeting its inspection staffing requirements in the past in western Kansas, which has contributed to beef slaughter plants not being able to maintain maximum line speeds. Tyson's solution seems to be to get rid of the government inspectors."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

Electric vehicles are the cars of the future. sl-f / Getty Images

By 2035, every new car and truck sold in the U.S. could be an EV, a new report says.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
The Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, New York, a polluted nearly 2 mile-long waterway that is an EPA Superfund site. Jonathan Macagba / Moment / Getty Images

Thousands of Superfund sites exist around the U.S., with toxic substances left open, mismanaged and dumped. Despite the high levels of toxicity at these sites, nearly 21 million people live within a mile of one of them, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Read More Show Less
Trending
The National Weather Service station in Chatham, Massachusetts, near the edge of a cliff at the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge. Bryce Williams / National Weather Service in Boston / Norton

A weather research station on a bluff overlooking the sea is closing down because of the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
Amsterdam is one of the Netherlands' cities which already has "milieuzones," where some types of vehicles are banned. Unsplash / jennieramida

By Douglas Broom

  • If online deliveries continue with fossil-fuel trucks, emissions will increase by a third.
  • So cities in the Netherlands will allow only emission-free delivery vehicles after 2025.
  • The government is giving delivery firms cash help to buy or lease electric vehicles.
  • The bans will save 1 megaton of CO2 every year by 2030.

Cities in the Netherlands want to make their air cleaner by banning fossil fuel delivery vehicles from urban areas from 2025.

Read More Show Less
Protestors stage a demonstration against fracking in California on May 30, 2013 in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

A bill that would have banned fracking in California died in committee Tuesday.

Read More Show Less