Health

USDA to Allow Meat Companies to Self-Inspect Pork, Chunks of Feces on the Way?

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The Department of Agriculture (USDA) has decided to allow pork plants to use their own meat inspectors to inspect their meat products.

The USDA plan will expand an already existent pilot plan used by five pork plants, which has been a disaster.

According to The Washington Post:

But three of these plants were among the 10 worst offenders in the country for health and safety violations, with serious lapses that included failing to remove fecal matter from meat, according to a report this spring by the USDA inspector general. The plant with the worst record by far was one of the five in the pilot program.

In these cases, the contaminated meat did not leave the plants because it was caught by government inspectors once it reached the end of the processing line. But federal officials consider this too late in the process and repeatedly cited the plants for serious safety failures.

Self-regulated pork plants in other countries, such as Canada, resulted 8.8 million pounds of beef products being recalled for E. coli contamination.

New Zealand was recently given permission to export self-inspected meat to the United States, even though New Zealand government inspectors have warned that the meat is sometimes contaminated.

“Tremendous amounts of fecal matter remain on the carcasses. Not small bits, but chunks.” Ian Baldick, an inspectors union representative, told The Washington Post.

The USDA will begin the new meat inspection procedures in the spring of 2014 because meat industry lobbyists claim it will accelerate meat processing times.

Elisabeth Hagen, the USDA’s undersecretary for food safety, told the trade magazine Food Chemical News that the pilot program has produced safety results that the USDA “is comfortable [with] and confident in.”

Source: The Washington Post

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