V.L. Baker, The Daily Kos
The Obama administration Department of Agriculture has been pushing its proposal to "modernize" chicken processing inspection to include speeding up inspection lines and using fewer inspectors. They use the old excuse of saying it will save money and make the process more efficient.
The USDA claims that it would save taxpayers $30 million per year by laying off inspectors, and save the poultry industry "at least" $256 million annually. The chicken industry—dominated by Tyson, Pilgrim's Pride (now mostly owned by JBS), Purdue, and Sanderson—strongly supports the proposal.
Of course, food safety and labor advocates are up in arms arguing that the combination of more speed and fewer inspectors would lead to dangerous conditions for both consumers and line workers. The faster inspection lines would make the various commonly found pathogens of salmonella and campylobacter, which are often antibiotic-resistant, more prevalent. But, don't worry, the USDA has a solution for that. They plan to unleash a barrage of anti-microbial sprays onto chicken carcasses as they zip down the line. Doesn't that make you feel better?
The USDA is reviewing whether the bacteria-killing chemicals are actually masking salmonella rather than killing it.
However that turns out, looks like the USDA will go ahead with its
"modernization" plans. What does the meat industry have that makes the USDA
kowtow to their every wish? Why, of course, it has politicians in its
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