Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

USDA's Privatized Poultry Inspection Plan Would Leave Industry Unregulated

Food
USDA's Privatized Poultry Inspection Plan Would Leave Industry Unregulated

Food & Water Watch

Today, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a scathing analysis of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points-based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) in poultry slaughter, the pilot project that U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is using to justify its proposal to privatize poultry inspection in some 200 poultry plants across the country.

The proposed “Modernization of Poultry Inspection” rule published by FSIS on Jan. 27, 2012, would remove most FSIS inspectors from the slaughter lines and replace them with untrained company employees, allowing processing companies to police themselves. It would also permit chicken plants to increase line speeds to 175 birds-per-minute. FSIS has received hundreds of thousands of comments from consumers opposed to this change.

“The GAO saw through the euphemistically named ‘modernization’ proposal and confirmed our fears that FSIS does not have the scientific basis to justify privatizing poultry inspection,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “Since 2008 we’ve known that the HIMP model jeopardizes food safety and this latest GAO report will hopefully serve as a wake-up call for the elimination for HIMP in order to protect consumers.”

The GAO report, requested by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), chair of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, Poultry, Marketing and Agriculture Security, evaluated 20 young chicken and five young turkey plants and reveals gaping methodological flaws in the pilot project. The GAO also questioned how FSIS could use its flawed evaluation of the pilot project as the basis to propose expanding the privatized inspection model across the entire poultry industry.

“Food & Water Watch called for such a review when we first learned in 2011 that the Obama Administration proposed expanding HIMP across the entire industry and we commend Senator Gillibrand for requesting this independent review of HIMP,” said Hauter. "The GAO report shows that by supporting HIMP, the Obama Administration is prioritizing poultry industry economic interests over consumers and workers in poultry plants who face faster line speeds and increased safety risks."

The USDA thwarted attempts to have any public meetings on their proposal and prevented its own National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection from conducting an evaluation of HIMP or making any recommendations on the proposed rule.

Yesterday, the Southern Poverty Law Center and a coalition of civil rights groups filed a formal petition urging the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue new work speed standards in meat and poultry plans and for FSIS to reconsider its proposed rule change for poultry inspection.

“For FSIS to truly ‘modernize’ poultry inspection, the Obama Administration needs to get the legal authority from Congress to hold companies accountable for putting contaminated food into commerce, not deregulate inspection," said Hauter. "It’s time to take a good hard look at the poor management of FSIS, withdraw the flawed rule and restore the funding in the FY 2014 FSIS budget to keep independent and trained FSIS inspectors on the job.”

Visit EcoWatch’s FOOD page for more related news on this topic.

One report in spring 2020 found that 38% of students at four-year universities were food-insecure. Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty Images

By Matthew J. Landry and Heather Eicher-Miller

When university presidents were surveyed in spring of 2020 about what they felt were the most pressing concerns of COVID-19, college students going hungry didn't rank very high.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Coast Guard members work to clean an oil spill impacting Delaware beaches. U.S. Coast Guard District 5

Environmental officials and members of the U.S. Coast Guard are racing to clean up a mysterious oil spill that has spread to 11 miles of Delaware coastline.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Plain Naturals offers a wide variety of CBD products including oils, creams and gummies.

Plain Naturals is making waves in the CBD space with a new product line for retail customers looking for high potency CBD products at industry-low prices.

Read More Show Less
What happened to all that plastic you've put in the recycling bin over the years? Halfpoint / Getty Images

By Dr. Kate Raynes-Goldie

Of all the plastic we've ever produced, only 9% has been recycled. So what happened to all that plastic you've put in the recycling bin over the years?

Read More Show Less
Donald Trump and Joe Biden arrive onstage for the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on Oct. 22, 2020. JIM WATSON / AFP via Getty Images

Towards the end of the final presidential debate of the 2020 election season, the moderator asked both candidates how they would address both the climate crisis and job growth, leading to a nearly 12-minute discussion where Donald Trump did not acknowledge that the climate is changing and Joe Biden called the climate crisis an existential threat.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch