Let Them Eat Chicken

Craig McCord

Craig McCord › Craig possesses 23 guitars and cannot play any of them. He likes fresh grilled sardines with a ...


The questionable ideas from the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service just keep coming. Now this important (but hardly reliable) department wants to replace the current system of poultry inspection by making poultry producers responsible for inspecting themselves. That’s right; the producers would be in charge of their own inspections.

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry called this idea a "recipe for food safety disaster."

Sound like a crazy plan? Well, it’s close to being implemented.

letthemeatchicken.com (where I first learned about this issue) weighed in with this:

This new proposed rule, which the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) opposes, would privatize the examining and sorting functions currently performed by FSIS (The Food Safety and Inspection Service) Inspectors, resulting in the probable loss of 1,000 FSIS inspector jobs. AFGE and many consumer groups also believe that the process of privatizing food inspection will significantly reduce the safety and quality of food available to consumers.


Stan Painter, Chairman of the AFGE National Joint Council of Food Inspection Locals, has several concerns about the new proposed rule. In the current poultry slaughter plants, FSIS inspectors are required to have at least three years of experience, through training, education or a combination of the two. The new proposed rule does not include language requiring experienced workers. “People will walk in off the streets, and they will put them in this position with no training,” said Painter.

Great plan.

In a statement released by Food and Water Watch, a nonpartisan consumer safety group, Executive Director Wenonah Hauter said the Obama administration should not implement the proposed rule "until all the facts are collected about whether it can achieve the same level of consumer protection as traditional inspection."

Consumers are encouraged to contact their Members of Congress about the new proposed rule, or to submit comments on the proposed rule to the FSIS. We should all raise a ruckus about privatized food inspections. Comments on the new proposed rule must be submitted by April 26, 2012.

President Obama has made some (what can only be called) ‘unfortunate’ appointments at the United States Department of Agriculture and now, ahem, the chickens are coming home to roost.

Note: The video from Current TV’s The Young Turks is a good overview of this issue. It’s worth watching.

Contact your Member of Congress and express your opinion!