April 21, 2024

Food & Water Watch Criticizes Parts of USDA Salmonella Action Plan

Food & Water Watch is critical of parts of the USDA Salmonella Action Plan announced yesterday. The proposal includes HIMP, the HAACP-Based Inspection Models Project announced last year that is basically a deregulation of the poultry industry.

Chicken CarcassesWenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch executive director said in a statement, “USDA’s Food and Safety Inspection Service wants to expand a pilot project in place in two dozen plants to 200 poultry plants across the country. The proposed change would remove most FSIS inspectors from the slaughter lines and replace them with untrained company employees, allowing processing companies to police themselves.

“This fall, the Government Accountability Office released a report on the pilot project that is being used to justify this proposed change. The GAO evaluated 20 young chicken and five young turkey plants and found 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.”

The Salmonella reduction rates in the USDA’s press release are also questionable. CDC has stated that “minimal progress” has been made to reduce foodborne illness from Salmonella, while at the same time, FSIS says that Salmonella rates in young chickens have decreased by 75% since 2006.

Unfortunately, the FSIS numbers come from a testing program that is not based on random sampling. The USDA itself said that accurate estimates for Salmonella couldn’t be calculated by data generated in that testing program. Food & Water Watch, like food safety attorney Fred Pritzker, said that the current loophole in the Federal Meat Inspection and Poultry Products Inspection Acts needs to be fixed so Salmonella can be regulated as a food borne pathogen and an adulterant.

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