April 8, 2020

Obama Administration Proceeds with Privatized Poultry Inspection

The Obama administration's proposed cuts to the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) signals the government is proceeding with privatized poultry inspection that has been criticized by food safety and worker safety groups. The change in regulations was proposed on January 27, 2012 in spite of hundreds of thousands of comments to the USDA opposing the change. Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch, issued a statement that said, "USDA has been conducting a pilot using this privatized inspection model since 1999 in 20 chicken and 5 turkey slaughter facilities. The department has made the argument that the remaining USDA inspectors in the plants can focus on 'food safety' issues leaving 'quality' defects for the company employees to handle. The department's … [Read more...]

Members of Congress Again Ask USDA to Withdraw HIMP

Members of Congress have sent a letter to the USDA, asking the agency to withdraw their proposal to modify the poultry slaughter inspection program. The program, called HAACP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) was proposed last spring. Some are concerned that the proposal will have "deleterious impacts on both food safety and worker safety." The letter was signed by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME). The signers list problems with the HIMP proposal, including reducing food safety standards during post-mortem inspection, reducing sanitary dressing practices of poultry, and giving critical carcass inspection duty to industry, which is an inherent conflict of interest. HIMP … [Read more...]

Former Poultry Inspector Petitions Against USDA Plan

Phyllis McKelvey, a former USDA poultry inspector, has started a petition on Change.org against HIMP, the USDA's new plan to reform poultry inspection. The program, called HACCP-based Inspection Models Project, has been criticized by many organizations, including the Consumer Federation of America, the National Consumer League, and Food & Water Watch, who believe it will lower quality and standards in the poultry industry. McKelvey says, "I have dedicated my professional life to protecting the integrity of the nation's food supply and I believe the USDA's plan to decrease poultry inspection and increase line speed is bad for consumers and poultry plant workers." The model reduces the number of USDA inspectors and also increases line speeds. Workers will have 1/3 of a second to … [Read more...]

Consumer Groups Urge USDA to Withdraw Poultry Slaughter Proposal

A coalition of 23 consumer, labor, public health, and civil rights groups have sent a letter to Secretary Tom Vilsack. They are urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to withdraw its proposal that increases poultry processing line speeds and removes hundreds of federal inspectors from poultry processing plants. That proposal, called HACCP-based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) has been criticized by many consumer groups. The letter states that USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) developed the proposal with limited input and did not consult with its inspection advisory committee. The agency did also not hold public meetings on this issue, unlike previous agency proposals. The coalition has several concerns with this proposal. Line speed increases are a concern, … [Read more...]

HIMP Criticism and Questions

The USDA's proposed changes to poultry inspection, called HACCP-based Inspection Models Project (HIMP), have been criticized by many consumer groups.┬áThe Consumer Federation of America (CFA) released a statement on the changes. Chris Waldrop, Director of the Food Policy Institute at that agency, said, "there has been no thorough independent review of HIMP since 2001 when the GAO reviewed the program and raised serious concerns about the data presented by FSIS to justify the program." The statement continued, "Even more troubling is FSIS's recent admission that plants may temporarily change their food safety processes during FSIS verification sampling. In a notice to inspectors, FSIS noted that plants may be increasing chlorine levels in poultry chillers to levels not supported under the … [Read more...]

USDA Delays Decision on Poultry Inspection Privatization Plan

The USDA has delayed making a decision on implementation of its poultry inspection modernization plan called HACCP-based Inspection Models Project (HIMP). Back in January, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack held a press conference to announce the changes. The proposal has met with a lot of backlash from consumer groups and food safety advocates. So the USDA has extended the comment period for the proposed change to accommodate the concerns of those groups. Two points of the HIMP proposal have garnered the most criticism: USDA inspectors will no longer be checking the birds for visual defects; that will now be performed by plant employees. Line speeds will increase from approximately 120 birds per minute to 175 birds per minute or more. The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection … [Read more...]

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