The Agriculture Department has released long-awaited poultry-inspection rules that will give plant operators the option of conducting their own inspections for bird defects and feces on the processing lines and allow government inspectors to concentrate on other food-safety issues in the plant.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the new rules were the most significant change in food-safety inspections in nearly 60 years. They “will increase the chances of us detecting problems by placing the burden of finding contaminates such as salmonella on the plants,” he said…
How gullible does that sound to you?
The department also announced that it would limit speeds on poultry plant lines to 140 birds per minute to protect workers from repetitive-stress injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome. The current average is about 130 birds a minute, officials said, but food-safety groups were worried because earlier proposals indicated the limit would be significantly raised.
The increase is ruled OK because the plant owners wanted to make it even worse.
“The one U.S.D.A. inspector left on the slaughter line under this new rule will still have to inspect 2.33 birds every second — an impossible task that leaves consumers at risk,” Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said in a statement.
“This is not a meaningful victory because there are not accompanying worker-safety regulations to deal with the musculoskeletal disorders and other work-related injuries that both the plant workers and U.S.D.A. inspectors suffer every day working in the poultry slaughter plants,” she added.
Just in case you thought there was some interest in our government to protect the public and meatpacking workers from crappy working conditions, crap-laced food and crap-filled food products – our Department of Agriculture provides a public service announcement letting us know we’re on our own more than ever.
My family stopped buying chicken from the brands that raise and kill poultry as part of a grubby, unsafe packing process that treats consumers with as little care as the birds they’re harvesting. Years ago. These new rules ain’t about to change that.