Consumer Groups, Food Inspectors Deliver Safe Poultry Petitions

Nearly 150K petitions delivered served as USDA extends comment period.


WASHINGTON – Consumer watchdogs, concerned citizens and federal food inspectors represented by the American Federation of Government Employees today delivered nearly 150,000 petitions to the U.S. Department of Agriculture opposing proposed changes to the poultry inspections process that will impact the health and safety of the American public.

USDA official Sally Liska accepted the petitions on behalf of USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. The petitions, which were circulated by AFGE and other groups, denounce a regulation proposed by Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) that would partially privatize the poultry inspections process and drastically increase the number of birds federal inspectors must examine.

“Budget cuts are driving the USDA to take this drastic step, which would reduce our highly trained teams of federal food safety inspectors to a skeleton crew who would have to review three birds every second – a humanly impossible task,” AFGE National President John Gage said. “This is a recipe that appears to be putting diseased chickens right on our kitchen tables, and we are urging the USDA to reconsider this foolish and dangerous proposal.”

On Thursday, the day after ABC World News broadcast a story on the controversial proposal, FSIS announced it would extend the comment period on the proposed rule by an additional 30 days. The original deadline was April 26; nearly 600 comments have been submitted on the rule so far.

The USDA proposal would extend nationwide a pilot project that has allowed some poultry companies to inspect their own chickens. But an analysis released last month by the nonprofit Food & Water Watch, which partnered with AFGE on the petition drive, revealed that large numbers of defects are routinely being missed when inspection tasks are performed by company employees instead of USDA inspectors.

In addition, FSIS data obtained by AFGE under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that company inspectors operating under the pilot project remove far fewer diseased birds than federal inspectors operating under the traditional process. At one company, Pilgrim’s Pride, the condemnation rate for diseased birds is twice as high at the traditional plant as compared to the privatized plant.

Delivering petitions today were representatives from AFGE, AFL-CIO, Daily Kos, Food & Water Watch, American Rights at Work and the Government Accountability Project.

 

About Ramón Jiménez

Ramón Jiménez, actual Managing Editor de MetroLatinoUSA. Periodista que cubre eventos de las comunidades latinas en Washington D.C., Maryland y Virginia. Graduado de la Escuela de Periodismo de la Universidad del Distrito de Columbia. Galardonado en numerosas ocasiones por parte de la Asociación Nacional de Publicaciones Hispanas (NAHP) y otras organizaciones comunitarias y deportivas de la región metropolitana de esta capital. También premiado en dos ocasiones como Mejor Periodista del Año por la cobertura de la comunidad salvadoreña; premios otorgados por la Oficina de Asuntos Latinos del Alcalde de Washington (OLA) y otras organizaciones. Ha sido miembro del jurado calificador en diferentes concursos literarios, de belleza y talento en la región metropolitana. Ha visitado zonas de desastre en Nicaragua, Honduras y El Salvador e invitado a esos países por organizaciones que asisten a personas de escasos recursos económicos. Antes trabajó en otros medios de prensa de Virginia y Washington, D.C., incluyendo reportajes para una agencia noticiosa mundial.

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