News update:Mar 9, 2016

AFGE seeks to prevent takeover of US poultry inspections

The American Federation of Government Employees is calling on House lawmakers to prevent the US Department of Agriculture from implementing a new poultry inspection system which they feel would jeopardise worker and food safety.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut has introduced an amendment to the fiscal 2015 Agriculture Appropriations Bill that would prevent the USDA from spending any money to finalise and implement its proposed poultry inspection rule. AFGE has issued strong support for the amendment and is encouraging all lawmakers to vote for it when it comes to the floor.

"The current poultry inspection system certainly has its flaws. But the USDA's cost-cutting plan would transform an imperfect system into a potentially lethal one," AFGE national president J. David Cox Sr. said.

The USDA proposed rule, which was first proposed in January 2012 and has been stalled ever since, would remove most federal inspectors from the slaughter line and turn over inspection activities currently performed by federal inspectors to untrained employees hired by the poultry processing plants, the AFGE claims. The proposal also would allow plants to increase their line speeds up to 175 chicken carcasses per minute, meaning that the lone remaining federal inspector on the slaughter line will have one-third of one second to examine each chicken carcass for disease, infection and contamination.

The chief goal of this proposal is to save money, not to increase safety for consumers or workers, Cox said. The plan would save USDA about $90 million over three years, while poultry plants would reap more than $250 million a year in profits from increasing line speeds, according to the agency's own documents.

World Poultry

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