September 16, 2019

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. 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, … [Read more...]

Obama’s 2015 Budget Cuts Poultry Inspection

Food & Water Watch has released a statement critical of President Obama's 2015 budget, which cuts the USDA's budget for the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) by $9.3 million as part of the "Modernization of Poultry Inspection Rule". Food safety experts call this "The Filthy Chicken Rule". Last year, the government's own Government Accountability Office (GAO) report called the results of the pilot program for this rule into question. That report 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 that flawed evaluation as a basis to expand privatized inspections across the entire poultry industry. Wenonah Hauter, executive director for Food & Water Watch, said, … [Read more...]

Legislators Angry About Increased Poultry Line Speeds

According to Food and Water Watch, congressional leaders and poultry workers have asked the Obama administration to stop the USDA from letting poultry plants increase line speeds. The new regulations, which were announced two years ago, will increase line speeds from 140 birds per minute to 175, despite a lot of evidence that this speed is a primary contributor to worker injuries. OSHA does not regulate line speeds or enforce safety rules for poultry plants; the USDA is the only federal agency involved in this area. The coalition, which includes Center for Effective Government and Center for Progressive Reform, is also stating that this increase will make workers less able to identify and remove tainted chicken. Hilary O. Shelton, director of the NAACP Washington Bureau said in a … [Read more...]

Food & Water Watch Exposes USDA Inspection Staff Shortages

Food & Water Watch has uncovered USDA inspection staffing shortages and has sent a letter to Secretary Tom Vilsack, asking him to investigate this issue. The new policy at the government agency is to hire temporary meat and poultry inspectors instead of full-time permanent inspection personnel. Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch said in a statement, "we believe that the USDA has put food safety in jeopardy by this reckless policy. This policy was hatched so the agency could implement its 'Filthy Chicken Rule', which deregulates poultry inspections - a move so fraught with controversy that it has yet to be finalized. What the USDA has done is put the entire meat and poultry inspection system on the brink of collapse." The policy began in May 2012, right … [Read more...]

More Salmonella in Chicken Parts Than Whole Chickens

The USDA is saying that Salmonella rates in young chickens have dropped 75% since 2006. But at the same time, rates of Salmonella infections in people that are linked to chicken have not decreased. More than a million Americans are sickened by Salmonella in poultry every year. There is a good reason for this: the Salmonella rate is measured on whole chickens, not parts. And more people buy chicken parts, which are more likely to be contaminated, than whole chickens. The current Salmonella outbreak linked to Foster Farms chickens found that 24% of the chicken parts products were contaminated with at least one strain of Salmonella. That is three times the rate of contamination on whole chickens and equivalent to the over rate of chicken part contamination in the marketplace. In … [Read more...]

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. Wenonah 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. … [Read more...]

EU Rejects Australian Privatized Meat Inspection System

The European Union has officially rejected Australia's privatized meat inspection system, according to a report released of the May 2012 audit. Australia's system, called the Australian Export Meat Inspection System (AEMIS) was implemented in September 2011. It was judged to be not in compliance with EU food safety regulations. The European Commission audit staff said that using company-paid inspectors to perform inspection of animal carcasses was a conflict of interest. The report states that "Australian Government Authorised Officers (AAOs) who are directly paid and employed by the food business operators did not meet the legal interpretation of an 'official auxiliary'. The competency of AAOs was not questioned."  The Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and forestry told … [Read more...]

Safe Food Coalition Urges USDA to Withdraw HIMP

The Safe Food Coalition has written a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, asking him to withdraw that agency's proposal to modify its poultry slaughter inspection program. That program, known as HAACP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) shifts responsibility for inspecting poultry processing plants from government to the companies. The Food Integrity Campaign has released affidavits from inspectors who have worked at HIMP and non-HIMP plants that talk about the "serious problems the program directly poses to public health," according to that organization. For instance, line speeds are increased up to six times faster at some HIMP plants; federal inspectors are replaced by plant workers who may not speak up about food safety issues; and a greater number of contaminated birds enter … [Read more...]

GAO Criticizes USDA Proposal to Privatize Poultry Inspection

The Government Accountability Office released an analysis yesterday of the HACCP-based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) in poultry slaughter. The USDA is using that project to justify a proposal to private poultry inspection in some plants in this country. The proposed rule, called "Modernization of Poultry Inspection" published in January 2012, would use untrained company employees to replace most FSIS inspectors on the poultry slaughter lines. The rule would also increase chicken plant line speeds to increase to 175 birds-per-minute from 140, raising questions about worker safety and food safety. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) requested the GAO report. The report evaluated USDA's examination of 20 young chicken plants and 5 young turkey plants for the HIMP proposal and found … [Read more...]

House Committee Urges USDA to Finalize Controversial Poultry Rule

The House Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment on June 13, 2013 urging the USDA to finalize its controversial rule to modernize poultry inspection. The amendment was offered by Representative Jack Kingston (R-GA) and passed by a voice vote. The rule, known as the HACCP-based Inspection Models Project (HIMP), has been criticized by consumer groups, members of Congress, and the former poultry inspectors. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) sent a letter to the USDA last December asking officials to withdraw HIMP because of issues such as giving carcass inspection duty to industry, a conflict of interest. The USDA delayed implementation of the rule last year, extending the … [Read more...]

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