Food & Water Watch, a Washington, D.C.-based organization dedicated to safe food and water, recently filed suit in federal court to stop the implementation of the New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS) rules—which would turn over key food safety inspection functions to poultry companies with limited oversight by USDA inspectors.
“These rules essentially privatize poultry inspection, and pave the way for others in the meat industry to police themselves,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “The USDA’s decision to embrace the scheme—an initiative lobbied for by the meat industry for more than a decade—flies in the face of the agency’s mandate to protect consumers. What’s more, we believe it’s illegal.”
In its suit, Food & Water Watch charges the new system violates the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA), a law passed in 1957 that gives USDA the authority to protect consumer health and welfare by assuring that poultry products are wholesome, not adulterated, and properly marked, labeled and packaged. The organization alleges that NPIS violates a number of statutory requirements, including the PPIA’s prescription that federal government inspectors, and not poultry slaughter establishment staff, are responsible for condemning adulterated young chicken and turkey carcasses. The suit states that the NPIS rules also violate the PPIA’s requirement that federal inspectors supervise slaughter establishment reprocessing, which is done to avoid the condemnation of adulterated birds (essentially removing problematic chicken parts to allow the rest of the bird to pass inspection.)
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