The USDA is thinking about taking shocking action that will put American families at risk. The agency is considering instituting a controversial plan at poultry plants, known as HIMP, which federal meat inspectors warn will dramatically reduce the quality of chicken, and pose a direct threat to food safety.
HIMP means more blisters, scabs, tumors and disease in our chicken. How do we know this? Because USDA inspectors – those workers who have operated under HIMP and non-HIMP systems – have sworn that it's the truth.
When the USDA proposed in January that the HIMP program be instituted nationwide, USDA inspectors started, in droves, contacting the Food Integrity Campaign (FIC) of the Government Accountability Project (GAP) – the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.
What did these whistleblowers tell us? Their firsthand knowledge is terrifying:
· Chickens currently pass by federal inspectors checking them at a rate of 35 birds per minute, per inspector. Our whistleblowers have worked in HIMP plants where that jumps up to 200 birds per minute for one inspector! That's so fast, inspectors simply can't look at every bird.
· Under HIMP plans, federal inspectors are replaced with plant workers who are powerless to speak out against their employers. Our whistleblowers have witnessed these "sorters" are rebuked by supervisors when they try to slow down the line for food safety concerns. It's all profit, all the time.
· Inspectors at HIMP plants can only see the backside of the bird – not the front (where the breast meat is) or the inside, either of which may show tumors, scabs or fecal matter.
Make no mistake – HIMP does nothing to protect the wholesomeness of chicken or the integrity of the food on your family’s table. On the contrary, it makes your family less safe. We're collecting as many more affidavits as we can from USDA inspector whistleblowers who know this is a bad idea.
But you can help. The USDA's comment period on HIMP is open until April 26. Sign our petition immediately to let Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack know that removing federal inspectors from poultry plants by instituting the HIMP plan is a terrible idea – one that the agency should abandon immediately.
FIC will also make sure that, along with the affidavits we have collected from USDA inspectors, this petition and its signers will be submitted into the official comments on HIMP.
Thank you for your support, and for caring about food integrity!
~ The Food Integrity Campaign of the Government Accountability Project