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Friday, April 06, 2012

USDA to America: Eat Shit and Die
Posted by Jill | 1:23 PM
Because giant food processing companies have food safety at heart. Yeah. Right:

Food safety advocacy groups are fighting a proposed rule that would allow private companies to assume some of the food inspection duties currently handled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service currently oversees all poultry for blemishes and defects before the carcasses are fully processed, but under the new rule, poultry plants would assume those responsibilities.

The USDA estimates that the program, known as HIMP, would save the USDA just under $100 million over the next three years while providing a $520 million shot in the arm to poultry companies. At the same time, the USDA claims, it will reduce 5,200 poultry-related illnesses each year. Advocacy groups like Food & Water Watch, however, share a different story. FWW examined more than 5,000 USDA documents and found that companies already operating under trial versions of HIMP are missing defects at absurd rates, Food Safety News reports:

FWW said they found that company employees often miss quality defects like “feathers, lungs, oil glands, trachea and bile still on the carcass.”

Their analysis found that the average error rate for these types of defect in chicken slaughter facilities was 64 percent and 87 percent in turkey slaughter facilities. And for one turkey slaughter facility, nearly 100 percent of samples found this category of defect. FWW also found that the vast majority of non-compliance records filed for the 14 plants under the pilot was for “fecal contamination found on the carcasses.” Out of 229 NRs filed from March to August 2011, 208 (90 percent) were for visible fecal contamination that was missed by company employees.

The USDA says it is trying to “modernize” its outdated and inefficient system, but previous attempts to expand the HIMP program faced similar criticism. In 2002, the Government Accountability Office reported that some plans participating in HIMP had higher results of contamination than before. Five of 11 plants had higher rates of salmonella contamination while only two improved, and tests found higher rates of defects in seven of the plants. At the time, Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D-IA) called the program a “recipe for food safety disaster.”

And this is happening under a Democratic administration. Imagine what Romney Nation woill look like.

Meanwhile, you might want to also stay away from Gulf shrimp as well.

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Blogger Ahab said...
Very troubling. Third party inspection of food, however imperfect, is better than this proposal.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
This is gonna end up like all that "voluntary compliance" crap that the corporate types love so much.

Funny to me how people would think it was insane to ask us to "voluntarily comply" with, say, traffic laws, without an enforcing arm, but somehow it's a peachy-keen idea when it comes to the corporate sector.

And really, you can just expect this to work so well, what with entities like Enron, Goldman Sachs, Tyson, and International Beef Processors in the mix....

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Apparently Upton Sinclair's book The Jungle, which was an expose of the working conditions in Chicago's meatpacking district, stunned Americans. Not about the workers but about what was being done to the food.

That was in 1906. Before the end of the year the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act were passed.

Blogger Mauigirl said...
Can you say "fox watching the henhouse?" Doesn't sound like a good diea to me.

Blogger skywind said...
I swear, another story like this and I will give up eating meat. Unless I kill it myself. Errrrrr, I will give up eating meat.

Anonymous Ted said...
Where is Upton when we need him?
The Pure Food and Drug Act is still around. Indeed, it's what we're talking about here. It needs -- desperately -- to be updated for the 21st century, but even more important, the one we have needs to be ENFORCED. By somebody!

And to Maui, this is more like letting the inmates guard the prison....