March 21, 2018

Want to See How Fast 175 Birds Per Minute Is?

Many consumer and food safety advocates are angry about the proposed HAACP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) for poultry inspection. That model shifts responsibility for inspecting poultry from government to corporations. In addition to having employees inspect the birds, line speeds will be increased from 140 birds per minute to 175 birds per minute.

Chicken CarcassesIt’s easy to talk about how increasing line speeds will increase worker injuries and make it harder for anyone to see problems with carcasses. It’s another thing to actually watch birds fly by at the rate of 175 per minute.

To see how this line speed looks, take a gander at the simulation of a 175 bpm model provided by the Food Integrity Campaign. Scroll down to FIC, Poultry Workers Campaign against USDA Proposal. Do you really think it’s possible for anyone to find problems with the poultry carcasses when they go by at that rate of speed?

Inspectors are supposed to look at the birds for problems such as feces, feathers, lungs, oil glands, trachea and bile on the carcass. At this rate of speed, finding these issues will become next to impossible, which means that more contaminated birds will go into the cooling vats, possibly spreading pathogenic bacteria to other carcasses.

Food and Water Watch, along with more than 100 other consumer, farm, food safety, and environmental groups, sent a letter to the White House denouncing the plan to deregulate poultry inspection and increase these line speeds. The letter states that “with this proposed rule, the USDA wants to allow poultry company employees to do the job currently done by 800 USDA inspectors. What it boils down to is an attempt to cut the USDA’s workforce, by putting the health and safety of consumers and workers at risk.”

An analysis of USDA inspection records from the pilot plants participating in the HIMP project found that company employees “missed food safety and wholesome defects at an alarming rate – as high as 99 percent in one turkey slaughter plant.” The letter continues, “proper inspection cannot occur at these excessive line speeds, whether conducted by a trained USDA inspector or a company employee. But the USDA wants consumers to believe that the use of a chemical cocktail at the end of the slaughter process is enough to deal with any food safety issues that might be missed.”

Signers of the letter include Earth Learning, GMO Free Oregon, Family a+Farm Defenders, Food Chain Workers Alliance, Michigan Farmers Union, Slow Food USA, Public Citizen, and US PIRG.


  1. Tami K. Hastings says:


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