Food & Water Watch released a list of poultry plants, along with their supermarket brands, that are participating in the USDA’s New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS) that removes government inspectors from slaughter lines and gives that responsibility to company employees. This comes right after reports that some employees are denied bathroom breaks, so have taken to wearing diapers to work.
Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch said in a statement, “As consumers get ready for the summer grilling season, they need to know which poultry plants are using privatized inspection to prioritize efficiency and profits over people. The USDA should never have allowed companies to police themselves, but to add insult to injury, they failed to even let consumers know which products are coming out of these plants.” Food & Water Watch obtained these lists through the Freedom of Information Act.
The NPIS system started as a pilot program in 1998 and facilities started the new system in 2015. Only one USDA inspector is in each plant to inspect carcasses, and he or she must evaluate 2.33 birds per second in chicken plants. In turkey plants, one carcass per second is the inspection rate. That means employees must find and condemn adulterated poultry instead of federal inspectors.
The corporations participating in this system include Butterball, Cargill, Golden Rod Broilers, Hillshire Brands, Perdue Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride, and Tyson. The supermakret brand names produced by these corporations include Aidell’s Sausage, Tyson Fresh Meats, Koch Foods, Miller Amish Country Foods, Pine Manor, Chef-Quik, Eat Well Stay Healthy, GoldKist Farms, Kirkland’s, Pilgrim’s, Blue Ribbon Farms, and Prospect Farms, among others.
The government is encouraging more processors to participate in this program. The program is open to all poultry plants in the United States. If consumers avoid these products at the grocery store, by looking for those specific brand names, the program may not be a success.
Hauter continued, “people shouldn’t have to research whether the chicken they buy at the supermarket was actually inspected by trained government inspectors. But thanks to years of lobbying by big poultry companies to deregulate inspections, industry profits have prevailed over food safety.”