August 27, 2014

USDA Publishes Final Poultry Slaughter Rule

Chickencarcass

On Thursday, July 31, 2014, the USDA published the final rule of the Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection, the highly controversial change in poultry slaughter plants that food and worker safety advocates deplore. That rule removes USDA inspectors from plants and replaces them with company employees, and increases slaughter line speeds from 140 birds per minute to 175. There was one change before the rule was released; the government decided to keep the maximum line speed at 140 birds per minute. The rule does require microbiological testing and establishes the New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS). Unfortunately, corporations can decide for themselves whether or not to participate in NPIS. Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter said in a statement, "today, … [Read more...]

Chinese Meat Plant Implicated in Food Safety Scandal

China-Flag

According to Food & Water Watch, Shanghai Husi Foods Company, a meat plant in China, is implicated in a Chinese food safety scandal. That plant passed USDA audits in 2004 and 2010. This is a problem because last year the USDA decided to let chicken processed in China be exported to the United States. Food & Water Watch has sent a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, asking him to stop all activities that would "pave the way for China to export their poultry products to the U.S."  Shanghai Husi Foods sold expired meat and poultry products to Chinese fast food restaurants and exported some of those foods to Japan. Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch said in a statement, "it has been nearly a decade since China made its initial request to send its … [Read more...]

USDA Sends HIMP Poultry Rule to OMB

Chickencarcass

The USDA has submitted a draft final version of the HAACP Based Models Project (HIMP), the Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection Rule to the Office of Management and Budget today. That rule has been criticized from everyone from food safety advocates to workers unions. Food & Water Watch does not like this rule, which would reduce the number of USDA inspectors in poultry slaughter plants and replace them with company employees. Line speeds for poultry carcass inspections will be increased to 175 birds per minute, which critics claim is much too fast for any reasonable inspection. The industry will gain at least $260 million every year because of fewer regulations, increased production, and no guarantees of food safety. Only one USDA inspector will be on each slaughter … [Read more...]

Problems with George’s Chicken HIMP Plant in Virginia

Chickencarcass

Food & Water Watch has released information about problems with a chicken processing plant that is part of the HACCP-based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) that the USDA is promoting as a modernization of poultry inspection. That corporation owns two plants; one has a full staff of USDA FSIS inspectors; the other is privatized, where most of the inspection is turned over to company employees. The privatized HIMP plant has been upgraded in several ways in the last few years. Walls were repainted, floors cleaned, and slaughter line speeds reduced, even though HIMP calls for increasing those speeds from 140 to 175 birds per minute. Whenever government officials have asked to visit other HIMP plants, FSIS has refused. The George's Chicken plant in Edinburg, Virginia is a "showcase" … [Read more...]

CFS Report Slams USDA for Stalling Animal Welfare Regs

chickens

The Center for Food Safety (CFS) has issued a white paper that scolds the USDA for stalling poultry animal welfare regulations. Most egg and poultry operations would not be affected by the increased welfare standards. The USDA analysis of economic impact is "faulty", according to CFS. The paper states that the largest organic farms are not following standard animal welfare practices. USDA's own analysis showed that the welfare improvements would affect the largest organic egg producers so much that they would stop organic production. Those five farms, out of 586 organic poultry farms in the country, claim the increases in cost because of increased regulations will bankrupt them. Bringing larger broiler producers into compliance would result in a 2.5% increase in price. Impact on … [Read more...]

FSIS Administrator Misinterpreted NIOSH Line-Speed Study

Chickencarcass

John Howard, director of the CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), sent a letter to Al Almanza, FSIS administrator last week, telling him that the USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service misinterpreted findings of a NIOSH study evaluating worker safety vis a vis increased line speeds at poultry processing plants. That study looked at worker injuries and disorders and waivers of line-speed restrictions at a Pilgrim's Pride plant. Poultry plant line workers use a combination of "highly repetitive and forceful movements that places employees at an increased risk for upper extremity WMSDs (work related musculoskeletal disorders)." NIOSH conducted an evaluation of employees who worked at the plant that was granted a waiver for regulatory line speeds under the … [Read more...]

Kitchen Cutting Boards Harbor Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

Cutting Board

A new study published in the Journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology found that kitchen cutting boards can become contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria from raw meat. Researchers at the University Hospital in Basel, Switzerland looked at 154 cutting boards before they were washed from the hospital and 44 from private homes after they were used to prepare pork, beef, veal, lamb, game, or fish. In addition, kitchen gloves worn during meat preparation were tested. The scientists discovered that 6.5% of the hospital cutting boards and 3.5% of the household cutting boards used to prepare poultry tested positive for "multidrug-resistant E. coli bacteria." None of the boards used for meat other than poultry dated positive. Fifty percent of the gloves were contaminated … [Read more...]

Denmark Successfully Controls Salmonella in Poultry

Salmonella bacteria

An article in the Oregonian details how Denmark started an intensive effort twenty years ago to try to control Salmonella infections in poultry after an increase in human illness. In the U.S., at least 200,000 people are sickened ever year by Salmonella in poultry. The USDA launched a Salmonella Action Plan last year that has been widely criticized because it just controls contamination during poultry processing. Meanwhile, Denmark has practically eradicated Salmonella in chicken. There is zero tolerance for Salmonella bacteria in poultry in Denmark. In the U.S., Salmonella contamination  is accepted as a given. The huge Foster Farms chicken Salmonella outbreak from early 2013 through this year, which has sickened at least 14,000 consumers and hospitalized hundreds, is considered … [Read more...]

Legislators Angry About Increased Poultry Line Speeds

Chickencarcass

According to Food and Water Watch, congressional leaders and poultry workers have asked the Obama administration to stop the USDA from letting poultry plants increase line speeds. The new regulations, which were announced two years ago, will increase line speeds from 140 birds per minute to 175, despite a lot of evidence that this speed is a primary contributor to worker injuries. OSHA does not regulate line speeds or enforce safety rules for poultry plants; the USDA is the only federal agency involved in this area. The coalition, which includes Center for Effective Government and Center for Progressive Reform, is also stating that this increase will make workers less able to identify and remove tainted chicken. Hilary O. Shelton, director of the NAACP Washington Bureau said in a … [Read more...]

Food & Water Watch Targets Maryland Poultry Industry Polluters

Chesapeake Bay

Food & Water Watch is targeting poultry industries in Maryland that contribute to nutrient pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. Legislation introduced by Senator Richard Madaleno (D-18) and Delegate Shane Robinson (D-39), called the Poultry Fair Share Act, would hold Maryland's big poultry companies partially accountable for cleanup. Water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed has declined in recent years. Factory poultry farms on Maryland's Eastern Shore make a billion and a half pounds of waste every year. Contract growers are forced to dump excess chicken manure on saturated farm fields because these companies will not handle the waste themselves. Runoff ends up in the Bay and its tributaries. Food Poisoning Bulletin told you about this problem last month. Phosphorous pollution … [Read more...]

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