Over 100 farm, consumer, environmental and multi-issue advocacy groups and businesses across the country delivered a letter to President Obama in the White House yesterday denouncing the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s plan to deregulate poultry inspections and increase maximum slaughter line speeds from 140 to 175 birds per minute. The groups also delivered 219,785 petitions against the proposal.
“With this proposed rule, the USDA wants to allow poultry company employees to do the job currently done by 800 USDA inspectors. The department is promoting this change as an opportunity to modernize the inspection program. But what it boils down to is an attempt to cut USDA’s workforce, by putting the health and safety of consumers and workers at risk,” says the letter.
The groups urge President Obama to kill the “Modernization of Poultry Inspection Rule” citing the failed pilot programs, with one turkey slaughter facility showing a defect rate of 99 percent. The groups also say that it puts companies in the role of protecting consumer safety without adequate training that federal inspectors receive, posing a risk for company workers who must contend with increased line speeds.
“This rule is more aptly named the ‘Filthy Chicken Rule’. It’s a big present to the meat industry on the backs of poultry workers and consumers,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, which has been fighting the rule since it was officially introduced two years ago. “This is the deregulation that the industry has been seeking for decades, and similar measures in beef and pork inspections will follow if this is allowed to go forward.”
“The bottom line is that the safety of the country’s food system should not be left in the hands of the private producers whose motivation is profit, but rather in the hands of those who operate in the public interest,” said Rachel Colyer, Campaign Director for Daily Kos. “This rule should be rejected outright.”
“Consumers’ confidence in our food safety system is extremely important,” said National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson. “Sacrificing credibility in exchange for expedited processing speeds is bad policy, and both farmers and consumer will suffer if an outbreak occurs.”
“Poultry already makes too many consumers sick. And working in a slaughterhouse is already one of the most dangerous job in America,” said Alexis Baden-Mayer, Esq., political director of the Organic Consumers Association. “The USDA’s new plan will put consumers and workers at even greater risk.”
To view the letter, click HERE.
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