USDA Issues Dirty Pork Rule, Allows Pork Producers to Inspect Own Meat

Categories: USDA, The Insider

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is once again putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.

A few years ago, USDA allowed poultry plants to speed up processing lines and reduced the number of inspectors. Federal inspectors no longer conducted comprehensive examinations of the carcass of each chicken and turkey processed in poultry establishments because the agency delegated that responsibility to poultry processors.

Now it’s doing the same thing with pork producers, who, under a new final rule , will now largely be in charge of their own food safety inspections instead of federally trained inspectors. USDA is almost totally relinquishing its role in ensuring food safety for the American people.

While government inspectors are highly specialized, the final rule doesn’t include any training requirements for the meat company employees who will take over the inspection responsibilities. This rule, dubbed the Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection, will take us back a century to a time when there was little government oversight over the meatpacking industry.

This is also a backdoor way to get rid of federal employees since it will result in the loss of 40% of federal inspector jobs in hog slaughter plants.

“The final rule released by USDA is detrimental to our food inspectors and to the American public whose food they keep safe,” said AFGE President J. David Cox Sr.

AFGE Council 45 represents more than 4,000 Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) inspectors across the country.

AFGE Council 45 Acting President Paula Schelling said this rule continues the all-out assault on the hardworking men and women who inspect our meat and poultry and protect the safety of the food we eat.

Last month, FSIS announced that it was unilaterally downgrading some food safety inspector positions. By lowering the grade these inspectors can achieve, it will make it harder to recruit new inspectors and make many longtime inspectors decide to retire or leave the agency for better-paying jobs elsewhere.

“This announcement, on top of the job reclassifications, is a one-two punch to the federal inspectors who keep our food safe,” she said.

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