December 3, 2016

Food & Water Watch Says Privatized Poultry Inspection Jeopardizes Food Safety

The advocacy organization Food & Water Watch has released a statement saying that privatized meat inspections jeopardize food safety. Food Poisoning Bulletin has been telling you about the government's effort to turn inspections of meat plants over to corporations for years. This analysis, conducted on inspection documents and noncompliance reports obtained through the Freedom of Information Act reveals defects in HIMP, USDA's HACCP-based Inspection Models Project. Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said in a statement, "Based on the data coming out of the plants where this privatized inspection scheme is already in place, it is unacceptable for USDA to try to expand this program to more plants." The pilot project has been running in 24 slaughter … [Read more...]

CFA Analyzes USDA Meat and Poultry Inspection Program

The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) has released an in-depth analysis of the USDA's primary meat and poultry food safety regulation program. That program was implemented after the 1993 E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to undercooked burgers at Jack in the Box restaurants. The report, called "The Promise and Problems of HACCP: A Review of USDA's Approach to Meat and Poultry Safety" looks at the history of the program and identifies gaps. Two examples are: plants fail to develop effective food safety plans, and the USDA fails to identify problems with those plans; and plants are repeatedly cited for recurring violations with very little consequences. CFA is recommending that the government develop better approaches to reviewing food safety plans. Plants should be required to … [Read more...]

USDA Inspectors Say HIMP Compromises Food Safety

Three current and one retired USDA officials are criticizing the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Inspection Models Project (HIMP) at hog processing facilities. HIMP increases line speeds and lets company employees do some of the inspection work formerly done by government employees. They say that food safety has been compromised as a result of these projects. Affidavits were released last week by the Government Accountability Project detailing the problems. As a result of these documents, GAP Food Integrity Campaign wants Hormel Foods to reduce line speeds at its facilities. USDA released an assessment of HIMP in November 2014, stating that the five participating plants are performing as well as those under the current inspection system. In one of the affidavits, an … [Read more...]

Congress Members Ask for More Answers on Poultry Inspection

Fifteen members of Congress sent a letter last week to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack about the new poultry inspection system that has been criticized by consumer, food safety, and workplace safety advocates. They wrote they are "extremely disappointed" that the USDA did not address their concerns about the new rule about HIMP, or the New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS). The letter states "the new rule will create a system that is detrimental to food and worker safety, as well as animal welfare. This rule abdicates food safety oversight from the USDA into the hands of industry and it places workers in jeopardy." The rule removes USDA-FSIS inspectors from processing lines in poultry plants and instead lets corporations use their own employees for inspections. This creates a … [Read more...]

Consumers Advocates Try to Stop Filthy Chicken Rule

Representatives from consumer advocate organizations met with staff from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) yesterday to express their opposition to the poultry privatization rule that is close to being approved. The rule removes government inspectors from poultry slaughter lines, increases line speeds, and places company employees in inspection positions. Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch said in a statement, "we expect the White House to jam this rule through quickly. Given the failure of the Obama Administration to implement policies to protect farmers from big meat packers, we suspect they are preparing to give another huge gift to the meat industry - the ability to police themselves when it comes to food safety." The industry should … [Read more...]

USDA Sends HIMP Poultry Rule to OMB

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

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...]

FSIS Administrator Misinterpreted NIOSH Line-Speed Study

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...]

Members of Congress Ask USDA to Delay Salmonella Plan

Several members of Congress sent a letter this month to the USDA, asking for the delay in the Salmonella Action Plan that Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is going to implement. The Plan's first provision is the implementation of poultry slaughter modernization, known as HIMP. The letter states that "considering the paucity of data and lack of comprehensive, external peer review, we are not convinced that this plan will either reduce Salmonella infection or promote public health." The HACCP Inspection Models Project (HIMP) has been running for 15 years. So far, no data collected suggests that the project has created any reduction in foodborne pathogens. And there is no mandate for microbial testing for Salmonella and Campylobacter in the plan, the only part of the Project that … [Read more...]

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. It'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 … [Read more...]

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