- Al AlmanzaAdministrator, USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service
Scabs, Pus, and Feces in Chicken? USDA, Keep It Off My Plate!
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is proposing to implement a new rule that will change the poultry inspection process, making it easier to allow unsavory and potentially unsafe chicken onto our plates.
As a mother of three, grandmother of eight, and a woman who has worked in the poultry industry for 44 years, I feel it’s my obligation to warn you about the chicken and turkey you and your family are likely eating. 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. I will fight tooth and nail to stop the USDA from moving forward with its proposal.
I know a lot about this new inspection plan. Before I retired in 2010, I worked in a poultry plant that was part of a pilot poultry inspection program called “HIMP.” Recently, I discovered that the USDA intends to implement the pilot program nationally. I can tell you, and so can anyone else who has worked in these plants, that the new poultry inspection plan will be a total nightmare.
The model not only reduces the number of USDA inspectors, but it also increases line speeds to the point where inspectors are only allotted 1/3 of a second to view chicken. Turkey is no exception, with inspection line speeds increasing up to 70%. Inspectors can no longer see all parts of the bird, which causes them to overlook contaminated chicken and turkey with lesions, bruises, and tumors.
Even fecal matter can get by inspectors. When inspectors do see these things, they are often not allowed to stop the line. The USDA is out of touch – Americans don’t want to eat scabs, pus, and sores. But that’s what will happen if this model is implemented.
The jobs that highly trained inspectors once did are now handed over to untrained workers at the poultry plant. The workers don’t have the power to question their supervisors. The overwhelming speeds of the lines result in more worker injuries.
The industry’s only concern is moving birds down the line – workers’ concerns don’t matter much. With no oversight, consumers are left eating chicken covered in scabs, feces, or bile.
I know this new proposal will have disastrous impacts on food and worker safety. Tell USDA to do its job to protect food and worker safety by rejecting this proposal before it’s too late!
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I write you today to demand that the USDA abandon its proposed plan to implement the "Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection" rule at poultry plants across the country. This terrible idea threatens the health of American families.
USDA inspectors at several plants where a pilot version of the rule is already in place are concerned that the plan will lead to more foodborne illnesses. The proposal not only reduces the number of USDA inspectors, but it increases line speeds to the point where inspectors only get 1/3 of a second to inspect a chicken. Turkey is no exception, with inspection line speeds increasing up to 70%. Inspectors can no longer see all parts of the bird, which causes them to overlook contaminated chicken and turkey with lesions, bruises, and tumors. Even fecal matter can get by inspectors. Furthermore, inspectors can no longer see all parts of the bird. Under this proposal, even the best inspectors miss lesions, tumors and fecal matter, and when they do see these things, they often are not able to stop the line.
The USDA's mission should be to protect consumers, not increase the likelihood of public sickness. For more information about USDA inspector concerns, I urge you to contact the Government Accountability Project to discuss these grave concerns.
Please withdraw this proposal that increases poultry processing line speeds and removes hundreds of federal inspectors from poultry processing plants. I don’t want any family getting sick because USDA inspectors are not allowed to do their jobs.
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