August 14, 2022

Privatized Food Inspection Equivalencies Risky

Food & Water Watch is asking USDA Tom Vilsack to reassess the government’s positions on equivalency for privatized inspection systems in other countries. Last week, a shipment of beef imported from Canada was found to be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.

Beef CarcassThe beef was produced at the JBS Food Canada plant in Alberta, Canada. This is the same plant that was responsible for the largest meat recall in Canadian history. In 2012, 12 million pounds of beef was recalled for E. coli contamination. More than 2 million pounds of that beef was shipped to the United States. JBS, Canadian Establishment 0038, uses a privatized inspection program at their facility that USDA recognized as being “equivalent” to U.S. meat inspection in 2006.

The contamination was discovered by USDA-FSIS inspectors at an import inspection station in Montana. FSIS instituted a new “test and hold” policy in February 2013, so the meat was not distributed to the marketplace. The government used to test products and then let them into the country instead of waiting for test results.

Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch said in a statement, “this latest discovery of contaminated meat entreating the United STates illustrates why our border inspection system is so critical for consumer protection. Through their plans to not only privatize meat inspection in the United States, but also weaken the border inspection program, USDA is clearly prioritizing meat industry interests over public health.”



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