Consumer Group Opposes USDA’s Privatization of Poultry Inspection

The USDA has privatized poultry inspection, though there's no evidence its pilot program worked.

| January, 24, 2012

  • processed chickens
    In the USDA poultry inspection pilot program plants, line speeds have been permitted to run as fast as 200 birds per minute.

  • processed chickens

Talk about the fox guarding the hen house! With virtually no fanfare, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced on January 20th that poultry processing inspections have been privatized — granting authority to processors to oversee their own lines with no government oversight.  

Food & Water Watch obtained more than 5,000 pages of documents that show that current regulations are not observed by company inspectors, as chickens move past them on processing lines at speeds of up to 200 birds a minute. — MOTHER 

Washington, D.C. — The Secretary of Agriculture and Undersecretary for Food Safety announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) plan to proceed with a program that would privatize the inspection of poultry products in the United States. Food & Water Watch vehemently opposes this plan and any other attempts to privatize food safety functions that are the responsibility of the federal government.

“This proposal is unacceptable and violates the department’s legal obligation to protect consumers by inspecting every carcass and every bird produced in USDA-inspected plants,” said Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter.

The USDA has been running a pilot project with this new inspection scheme in two dozen slaughter facilities since 1998. In these plants, line speeds have been permitted to run as fast as 200 birds per minute, which is several times faster than other poultry slaughter plants. Reports from these plants indicate that the company employees who perform inspections that used to be performed by USDA inspectors are not properly trained or given the authority to take necessary action to stop unsafe product from leaving the plant.

An initial review of more than 5,000 pages of documents that Food & Water Watch recently obtained through the Freedom of Information Act indicates that current regulations are not being enforced by company inspectors. For example, the records show that bile, sores, scabs, feathers, and digestive tract tissue are often not being properly removed from chicken carcasses.

Greg Jenkins
3/8/2012 5:08:21 AM

The article states: "Food & Water Watch vehemently opposes this plan and any other attempts to privatize food safety functions that are the responsibility of the federal government." Where does that say that in the Constitution??? I believe their are a lot of small farmers that want exactly the opposite of what Food & Water watch say. They want to process their poultry without USDA inspectors present. The big problem is that small farmers are mostly limited to 1000 birds a year. If we want to allow private corporations the right to monitor these activities, how about doing the same for small farmers, and discard the 1000/bird a year rule so they can compete too. The other thought is the birds leading up to slaughter are completley different between a small farmer and the subcontractor for the big processor. Feed, hormones, antibiotics, ect.

2/13/2012 2:35:32 AM

HEEHEE :) Just a thought Mr. Brandt, but if your concerned with feeding the masses then we should really switch to at least vegetarian. If we took all the land that raises livestock and the land used to grow food for all this livestock. Got rid of the useless mono culture farms that produce food that is so devoid of nutrition that it doesn't even have any taste to it ( sorry off track short tangent there ) But back to point if we took all this land and switched to organic bio diverse crops using animals to heal the land and fertilize it naturally the U.S alone could produce enough food to feed all the hungry in the world. That's a great thing and to top it off the food would actually have taste and be healthy for you loaded with nutrients over time while the soil healed. From what I understand it takes 100 yrs. for the earth to make 1inch of topsoil the way nature intended. Modern farming has completely killed our soil. Try as we might we will never be able to beat mother nature. I think she's proven that over and over again. Please don't take this as me trying to jump down your throat I'm not. Just my opinion from yrs of research. I would suggest maybe watching Earthlings on youtube as far as the jungle not happening anymore. Does it happen on all farms I don't think so. But I also don't think that factory farmers are actually farmers to me personally they are sell outs and one day in the history books it will tell of the great fall of real farmers.

2/13/2012 2:16:26 AM

Dear Mr. Brandt while you are right on some points in your post. I think maybe you are so focused in big gov. that your not looking at the big picture. For tonight because I have been on the road most of the day I'm gonna keep my reply kinda short so please forgive me if I leave anything out. As far as factory farmed anything ,it is not good for our health at all. You cannot expect to raise such a huge amount of anything without it being diseased. Sure you can cook it till it turns into leather but it is also almost completely devoid of any nutrition and isn't that the whole point of eating ? To provide nutrition for a healthy body. Plus it is a complete cycle between livestock and produce or vice versa. That doesn't even include all the antibiotics they use. 70 TO 80% of all antibiotics made in this country go directly to livestock to keep them from getting sick and helping them grow faster. Our sad excuse for a modern food system place a major cause in most of our sickness from diabetes to cancer this has been proven over and over again. While I am not a big fan of big gov. we have to stop blaming them for everything no one forced these farmers to farm they way they do. They did it probably for many reasons one I would hope would be lack of information. Farmers must start seriously educating themselves on everything that's out there and stop believing what all these sales rep's are telling them. It goes back to common sense and the old if it sounds to good to be true then it is. If you would like more info I can try to provide some :)


Fermentation Frenzy!

September 12-13, 2019
Seven Springs, Pa

Fermentation Frenzy! is produced by Fermentation magazine in conjunction with the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR. This one-and-a-half day event is jam-packed with fun and informative hands-on sessions.


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters

click me