Get Ready for Extra Helpings of Feces, Pus and Chlorine on Your Pla...

The US government doesn't want to bother inspecting meat, so they're turning to a trust system.

... new, alarming government efforts to reduce and disempower meat inspectors at slaughter plants and allow private industry to regulate itself.

In 1998, USDA rolled out its pilot HACCP system. The acronym stood for "Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points"...

HACCP was supposed to replace meat inspectors' old-fashioned "poke and sniff" method of visually examining carcasses by instituting advanced microbiology techniques. But it is also an "honors system" in which federal inspectors simply ratify that companies are following their own self-created system. As in “Trust us.”Last week, a coalition of food and worker safety advocates and allies gathered outside the White House to protest USDA's imminent plan to implement HACCP system-wide now that it has been used at pilot locations.

"Instead of trained USDA inspectors, companies will police themselves," says the site of the group that organized the protest, "Plants will be allowed to speed up production dramatically. Chickens will spend more time soaking in contaminants (including pus and feces!), and poultry plants are compensating by washing them in with chlorine."The expansion of the HACCP pilot programs, called HIMP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point-Based Inspection Models Project) would cut the number of poultry inspectors while increasing the use of antimicrobial sprays to control bacteria,... It would reposition inspectors at the end of the assembly line so they could not stop the hanging of unacceptable birds, only view them as they go by. It would allow only one side of the bird to be examined... Birds once considered unacceptable can now end up remaining on the line,...

Fecal contamination is not the only risk posed by the new, laissez-faire system. Under the new HACCP/HIMP rules, bruises, scabs, sores, blisters, infections and tumors on chickens will no longer ...removed.

It is hard to believe federal meat inspection will be further relaxed when it is already widely believed to be a farce. The major chains Red Robin, Applebee's and Outback Steakhouse have been cited for food poisoning outbreaks. The salmonella-laden Wright County Egg and the Peanut Corp. of America, both of which caused disease outbreaks, were awarded “superior” food ratings by inspectors only months before their products were recalled. And the Westland/Hallmark Meat company, which contaminated the School Lunch program and caused the biggest meat recall in US history, passed 17 separate audits the same year its products were recalled! Let's loosen the rules?

Of course, the cutbacks are all about money. Under the new plans, the government spends less because its inspectors' duties are assumed by the plant workers. The plants, of course, lose less money because their operations will never be shut down ...

USDA insists the moves amount to "modernizing" and improving meat safety, not privatizing and deregulating it.

Soon after HACCP pilot programs were implemented, a study by the Government Accountability Project and Public Citizen found that 62 percent of inspectors surveyed had been forced to allow contamination like feces, vomit and metal shards in food on a daily or weekly basis. Almost 20 percent said they’d been instructed not to document violations. Eighty percent of 451 inspectors surveyed said that HACCP weakened their ability to enforce the law and the public’s right to know about food safety.

The new poultry plant rules would give inspectors one third of a second to examine a chicken.

USDA is also permitting some imports to the US from processors in other countries who are practicing HACCP and HIMP-like self-regulation. And it is yielding concerning results. "11 shipments of beef, mutton and goat meat from at least four Australian plants using the procedures were stopped at U.S. ports because of contamination, which included fecal matter and partly digested food,...

In today's fast speed slaughterhouses, cows hang upside down and undergo butchering while still alive say news reports. A million chickens a year miss the stunner and are boiled alive according to the chicken industry itself, not animal advocates. Stunning and slaughtering an animal have become a detail lost in the frenzy of cheap production. [emphasis mine]

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if all this doesn't work to make people turn vegetarian....





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