“Lindsey, I was horrified at reading in Sunday, 8/19 Roanoke Times of the FDA proposing changes in the inspection of chickens as they are being prepared for our consumption. I would expect more time for inspections instead of less and also, certainly not inspections by employees of the poultry producers, but unbiased inspectors. I may have to become vegetarian after all.
Could you find where we could complain about this and start a public outcry?”
Ann is referring to this story, which was written by a reporter with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and which ran in our paper. The proposed new changes were also reported in several other papers, so some of you might already be familiar with the gist of it. For those who are not, here are some basics as they were worded in the AJC story:
The new proposals would:
“- Use workers in chicken and turkey plants to replace all but one federal inspector on the conveyor belt, where bad birds are removed from the production line. (Currently, chicken plants have as many as four federal inspectors on their lines.)
- Let those plants decide how much training their workers receive in identifying diseased or defected birds.
- Enable plants to speed up their slaughter lines so that the sole federal inspector, stationed at the end of the line, would be required to view up to 175 birds per minute. The maximum speed now is 140 per minute, but that workload is divided among four inspectors so that it averages out at 35 per minute for each inspector.
- Let poultry plants decide what dangerous bacteria they test carcasses for and how often they test, and no longer require plants to test for E. coli.”
The USDA says the new procedure would save money for both the poultry industry (at least $265 million per year) and taxpayers (more than $90 million over three years). The Food Safety Inspection Service says the new rules would free up inspectors to spend more time working to combat more serious food safety risks.
But some food safety groups are up in arms over the proposal. They say these are shortcuts that could put Americans more at risk for foodborne illness. Read the story (or this one in the New York Times,or this Huffington Post op-ed piece written by the administrator of the FSIS, which says there’s a lot of misinformation out there about the proposal, or any other story you can find by Googling this topic) in order to decide how YOU feel about these proposed changes.
If you are still disturbed by them and oppose them, you can go to the Food & Water Watch website and send a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Here is a link to the page where the form letter is located (you can customize the letter).
Food & Water Watch spokesman Rich Bindell also suggested that concerned parties contact their members of Congress to tell them the rule should be killed. Don’t know how to contact your representative? Here’s a page that you may wish to bookmark for future reference.