• The U.S. Government
Meat Inspectors’

'Fact: USDA inspectors inspect and make a critical appraisal of each carcass.'  USDA 
'The government believes that federal employees fulfill their statutory duty to inspect by watching others perform the task. One might as well say that umpires are pitchers because they carefully watch others throw baseballs.'

'The government thinks it can arrive at its position on the basis that the word "inspection" is undefined in the statutes. But the lack of a statutory definition does not render a term ambiguous. It simply leads us to give the term its ordinary, common meaning.'

'One may observe something without paying close attention to it, and without giving it a critical appraisal, although that is what these statutes demand.'

'Both statutes clearly contemplate that when inspections are done, it will be federal inspectors--rather than private employees--who will make the critical determination whether a product is adulterated or unadulterated.'

'To the extent federal employees are doing any systematic inspecting under the Models Project, they are inspecting people not carcasses.'

'Delegating the task of inspecting carcasses to plant employees violates the clear mandates of the FMIA and PPIA.'  U.S. Court of Appeals 
"Federal inspectors are now examining carcasses, but are they properly performing 'inspections,' as the statutes require?"... "The USDA has a ready response, one we find convincing. Inspection of the viscera 'is not necessary to determine whether a poultry carcass is adulterated.'"  U.S. Court of Appeals 
"The highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) form is far more dramatic. It spreads very rapidly through poultry flocks, causes disease affecting multiple internal organs, and has a mortality that can approach 100%, often within 48 hours. "  World Health Organization 
"We estimate that foodborne illness causes 5,020 deaths annually..."  CDC 

In one of the most far reaching changes in U.S. meat inspection history, federal regulators this fall will allow poultry plant employees — instead of USDA inspectors — to help determine whether chicken is contaminated or safe to eat, a move critics fear could spread to beef and pork processing plants.

This article includes a great, graphic history of the USDA at the end.

Please sign the petition. Food & Water Watch in conjunction with Appeal To Reason Productions released this humorous new video, loosely inspired by Portlandia's "Is it Local?" skit, featuring Constance Zimmer (Dana Gordon in HBO's Entourage, Claire Simms in Boston Legal), Raphael Sbarge (over 30 films, including Independence Day and Pearl Harbor), and Samantha Ressler (This Is the End, Nobody Walks, Ladyparts).

This story has one of the best explanations of HIMP on the web.

We can see 5 milligrams of fecal material. That's like one 500 mg. Tylenol® crushed into 100 pieces - you can see each piece. We can pick out 5 mg. of fecal material with a toothpick and smear it on a paper towel to verify that it's fecal material. We just can't see the individual single-cell microorganisms in the fecal material, but we know they're there. The argument that visual inspection of poultry is unnecessary because inspectors can't see microorganisms is a decoy.
One shift. One inspector. One disease. 1,229 chickens condemned (thrown away).

The volume of tally marks for the condemned birds exceeds the space on the form used to record them, so the inspector's helper uses paper towels for scratch paper and transfers the totals to the form at the end of the shift.  NJCFIL.com 
"A study was conducted to determine if the presence of airsacculitis in broiler chickens contributes to loss of saleable yield, lack of uniformity, fecal contamination, processing errors, and increases in populations of pathogenic and indicator bacteria.

In a commercial processing facility, groups of carcasses from airsacculitis (AS)-positive (ASP) and airsacculitis-negative (ASN) flocks were selected from the line and weighed, evaluated for cut or torn areas on the digestive tracts, and assessed for Campylobacter and Escherichia coli counts.

Additionally, fecal contamination was monitored and recorded.

ASP carcasses had higher (P < or = 0.05) fecal contamination in four of five repetitions.

The number of total digestive tract cuts or tears were much higher on ASP carcasses at 42, 49, 37, 60, and 59% as compared to 14, 12, 17, 24, and 16% for ASN carcasses in repetitions 1 to 5, respectively.

In three of the five replications, the presence of AS in the flocks increased (P < or = 0.05) the number of Campylobacter recovered from broiler carcasses.

Hence, there appears to be a relationship between the presence of AS and Campylobacter-positive carcasses.

Because flocks of chickens showing signs of AS have lower weights, more fecal contamination, more processing errors, and higher levels of Campylobacter spp., broiler companies should emphasize control of AS in the flocks as a means of preventing subsequent food-borne bacterial infection."  National Center for Biotechnology Information 
Possible means of infection include consuming raw or undercooked poultry or poultry products and inhaling contaminated poultry particles (e.g., this could occur during butchering).  OSHA 
'Fact: USDA inspectors inspect and make a critical appraisal of each carcass.'  USDA 
'...This is a back-door attempt to change administratively what Congress would never consider changing legislatively...

...The meat and poultry industry should assume more responsibility for its products, but not at the cost of eliminating vital hands-on inspections by qualified government inspectors," said Delmer Jones, Chairman of the National Joint Council of Food Inspection Locals, which is represented by AFGE.

...HACCP is not the issue, however, said Anne Wagner, an attorney representing the inspectors' union. The issue, she said, is USDA's plan to abandon its responsibility on visual carcass inspection.

...Twice, Michael R. Taylor, former undersecretary for food safety, confirmed to sources that this switch would be within USDA's statutory authority of the meat and poultry inspection acts, according to the department's Office of General Counsel.'  The Inspector 
"USDA may have won this battle, but the court is warning the department that they may not win the war..."  AFGE