Why is USDA planning to privatize poultry inspection?

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The USDA is moving forward with a plan to privatize poultry inspection – essentially letting chicken slaughterhouses decide on their own whether or not their product is safe. But the organization “Food and Water Watch” is claiming this program “violates the department’s legal obligation to protect consumers.” And according to documents obtained through a FOIA request by Food and Water Watch – these private inspection programs aren’t working – as various parts of the chicken that could be toxic to consumers like bile and digestive track tissue are not being properly removed. It’s time to stop putting corporate profits ahead of the safety of consumers. Food safety is a part of the commons – and needs to stay that way.

Thom Hartmann Administrator's picture
Thom Hartmann A...
Dec. 29, 2009 10:59 am


They have been doing this since the 1980's. The plan is to put a single USDA inspector between two lines where 6 company employees do the inspection, so USDA will comply with the meat and poultry inspection act that USDA inspector will have an opportunity to see the birds as they wiz by at 91 birds a minute per line, so each USDA inspector will be looking at 182 birds per minute.

But from all the commenters on your blog we don't need to worry since the "free market" will protect us. No company has ever cut a corner to make a larger profit like soaking chickens in water so they can sell water as poultry. USDA comprised with the poultry industry and lets them soak the birds so they can gain up to 10% by weight of water in the chiller tank. If it were not for USDA monitoring, companies would get 15-20% water into these birds, but the free market will prevent that. Right - LOL.

People need to read the "The Jungle" by Lewis Sinclair to understand why inspect meat and poultry. In addition the book spells out why you can't trust the "Free market” to self-regulate.

Recovering conservative2's picture
Recovering cons...
Feb. 14, 2011 11:01 am

Until the last 30 years, there was a USDA inspector at meat packing plants. The industry lobbied to end that and how many times a year now do we hear about an e coli recall? Never used to happen when they had inspectors. You can't have the fox guarding the chicken house.

Jun. 29, 2012 10:24 am

You don't even have to go as far back as "The Jungle." In one of Molly Ivins' books, maybe "Bushwacked," she talks about the lunchmeat plant where the bacteria alarm went off and someone just ignored it, and then a bunch of people died.

Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

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