Poultry Rule Information Center
Senator Tester Says USDA Should Put the Brakes on Controversial Poultry Inspection Rule
Senator Jon Tester of Montana has expressed his concerns to the administration. In a recent letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Senator Tester wrote:
“Without adequate scientific analysis to ensure the new process improves the safety of poultry slaughter and evisceration plants, it is premature to propose a rule that would standardize these practices across all plants. USDA should delay the proposed rules and reevaluate the pilot on food safety and market competition.”
Food safety and worker safety advocates have been campaigning against a proposal by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to “modernize” poultry inspection – by taking federal food safety inspectors off the line and essentially replacing them with processing company employees. It’s worrying for food safety because the company inspectors would have to visually inspect about three chickens per second; processing plants that have tried the system under a pilot program have produced birds contaminated with feathers, bile and feces. And it’s worrying for worker safety because poultry processing is already an extremely dangerous job, and the proposed rule would allow companies to speed up the lines. (Much more information in our poultry rule information center.)
The Senator is right to speak out. The rule is currently in USDA’s hands, but expected to be sent to the White House for review soon. The Obama Administration should stop this ill-conceived proposal in its tracks.
USDA Poultry Rule Demonstration
Please join us for a demonstration opposing the USDA "Modernize" poultry inspection rule
Help us unfurl petitions signed by half a million people!
President Obama: "yes" to clean, safe food; "no" to deregulation of food safety
Thursday, September 26
White House on Pennsylvania Avenue by Lafayette Park
Contact: Anne Janks
The USDA's new poultry rule would:
Eliminate 75% of USDA inspectors in poultry processing factories
Increase production speed by 25%
Increase risk of salmonella and other bacteria that cause food poisoning
Cause chicken to be exposed to 10 times more chemicals
Consequences of the rule:
Consumers will eat chicken with chemical residue and contaminants
With faster production rates, workers’ injuries will increase and workers will face breathing and skin problems from chemical exposure
Obama's Budget: Counting it's Chickens Before They've Hatched
Will That Be Original Recipe or Crunchy?
The guest op-ed piece by former UDSA Under Secretary for Food Safety Richard Raymond entitled, “Can We Talk Turkey?” had some factual errors that need to be addressed, along with some pieces of information that readers need to have in order to put some of the issues he raised into proper perspective. Keep Reading...
USDA personnel oppose New Poultry Inspection System
There has been considerable opposition to the new program by USDA-FSI inspectors and their Union since they recognise the inevitability of retrenchment and the need to retrain to implement the NPIS. The proposed NPIS will permit higher line speeds which are not possible using visual inspection. Keep Reading...
Letter From The Editor: Poultry Politics
Food Saftey News
In writing about food safety for the past four years, I’ve come to appreciate those times when government, industry and consumers are all on the same page. It’s at those moments that a bipartisan Congress adopts reforms like the Food Safety Modernization Act. Keep Reading...
Meet Phyllis, grandmother of 8, retired USDA poultry inspector of over 40 years, staunch advocate of food safety
She has started a petition to oppose the USDA's proposed rule that changes the way our poultry is inspected. Sign it today and tell the USDA: we don't want our food safety compromised.
You can also check out this tumblr page, Take it From Phyllis, to learn more about Phyllis's efforts to raise awareness about this issue.
The new Poultry Rule: Bad for consumers, bad for workers, bad for us all. Oppose the USDA poultry rule change!
We sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, asking him to withdraw the new poultry rule until important health and safety issues can be addressed.
The following groups and individuals signed the letter.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 20, 2012
Chris Waldrop, Consumer Federation of America, 202-797-8551
Gynnie Robnett, Center for Effective Government, 202-683-4813
Coalition of Consumer, Labor, Public Health, Civil Rights Groups Urges USDA to Withdraw Poultry Slaughter Proposal
Due to Food Safety, Worker Safety Concerns
A coalition of 26 groups and 17 individuals today urged the Department of Agriculture to withdraw a proposal that increases poultry processing line speeds and removes hundreds of federal inspectors from poultry processing plants.
The proposal, which would modify USDA’s poultry slaughter inspection program, increases the poultry line speed to an unsafe level and allows plant employees to replace federal government inspectors for certain inspection activities. In addition, the proposal reduces the numbers of federal inspectors working at poultry plants. While the poultry inspection program does need improving, the proposal was developed with limited public input. USDA did not consult with its inspection advisory committee prior to issuing its proposal; nor were public meetings held to solicit the views of the public before the proposal was announced. In addition, the groups highlighted a number of critical food safety and worker safety concerns raised by the proposal.
That's exactly how long inspectors will have, if the proposed US Department of Agriculture (USDA) poultry rule is implemented.
Can you count these chickens? Could you inspect them?
The USDA poultry rule will increase line speed to 175 birds per minute, giving inspectors only one-third of a second per bird. You heard that right --- ONE-THIRD OF A SECOND PER BIRD. In that time, inspectors will have to look at a dead chicken for fecal contamination, bile, diseases, tumors, feathers, intestines, and any other defects. Could you do that in one-third of a second?
The new rule will:
- Raise the likelihood of contaminated poultry going unnoticed.
- Contribute to higher rates of carpal tunnel syndrome and other injuries in poultry plant workers.
- Allow individual poultry plants to develop their own testing protocols, rather than using a national standard. And if plants don't think they need to test for Salmonella? They won't have to.
- Let wolves guard the henhouse by replacing federal inspectors with plant employees.
Read on for more information:
Chicken rules not a win for workers -- August 20, 2012
While the USDA says everyone -- taxpayers, poultry producers and consumers -- wins with its new rules, allow us to be skeptical. It's difficult to see how less federal regulation -- coupled with more self-regulation -- in this particular industry could possibly be a good thing.
Worker safety concerns voiced in HIMP comment letters -- May 30, 2012
Food Chemical News
Her hands were so swollen from taking poultry carcasses off a line, Sara was unable to close the latch on a metal glove used to hang birds, recounts Dan Werner, deputy legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center's Immigrant Justice Project. Her supervisor, seeing this, "grabbed her hand to close the latch, breaking her wrist."
"He pressed down on the latch and I felt how the bones cracked apart," Sara reportedly told SPLC staff. "I grabbed the chicken and it fell out of my hands because it hurt so much,'" and then was "yelled at" to resume her duties.
(Affiliations/Organizations Listed for Identification Purposes Only)
Barbara A. Frey
Director, Human Rights Program
University of Minnesota
Matthew Keifer MD, MPH
Dean Emanuel Endowed Chair and Director
National Farm Medicine Center
Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation
Andrea Kidd Taylor, DrPH, MSPH
Morgan State University School of Community Health & Policy
Paul Landsbergis, PhD, MPH
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences
School of Public Health
State University of New York-Downstate Medical Center
Martha T. McCluskey
Professor, SUNY-Buffalo Law School
Member Scholar, Center for Progressive Reform
Thomas O. McGarity
Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Endowed Chair in Administrative Law
University of Texas—Austin School of Law
Board Member, Center for Progressive Reform
Mary E. Miller, MN, RN
Occupational Health Nurse
Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH
Dept of Environmental & Occupational Health
School of Public Health & Health Services
George Washington University
Karen B. Mulloy, DO, MSCH
Colorado School of Public Health
Nancy Nivison Menzel, PhD, RN, PHCNS-BC, CPH, CNE
School of Nursing
University of Nevada
Las Vegas, Nevada
Laura Punnett, Sc.D., Professor
Dept. of Work Environment
University of Massachusetts Lowell
Lowell, MA 01854
Kimberly Rauscher, MA, ScD
West Virginia University School of Public Health
West Virginia University Injury Control Research Center
Beth Rosenberg, ScD, MPH
Department of Public Health & Community Medicine
Tufts University School of Medicine
Jeanne Sears, PhD, RN
Senior Research Scientist
Department of Health Services
University of Washington
Sidney A. Shapiro
University Chair in Law, Wake Forest University
Vice-President, Center for Progressive Reform
Craig Slatin, ScD, MPHProfessor, Department of Community Health and Sustainability
University of Massachusetts Lowell
Editor, New Solutions, A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy
Rena I. Steinzor
Professor, University of Maryland Carey School of Law
President, Center for Progressive Reform
HIMP: A Disaster Waiting to Happen with Poultry Inspection -- FIC
Discusses problem with the the HAACP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) which shifts responsibility away from government inspectors at poultry processing plants to the companies themselves
The Proposed Poultry Slaughter “Modernization” Rule: FAQs -- UFCW
UFCW answers common questions about the Poultry Rule
The Cruelest Cuts - The Human Cost of Bringing Poultry to Your Table -- Charlotte Observer Examines the health effects of poultry work on the workers who do it
Upper body musculoskeletal symptoms of Latino poultry processing workers and a comparison group of Latino manual workers -- July 27, 2012 -- American Journal of Industrial Medicine
Explores the negative consequences to the health of the poultry workers
More USDA Inspectors Question Poultry Plan Safety as Comment Period Ends -- May 29, 2012 -- Food Integrity Campaign
FIC on the poultry rule and accounts from USDA inspectors on the failures of the new system
Proposed USDA Rule Change Puts Profits Before Worker Safety -- May 22, 2012 -- Souther Policy Law Center
Discusses how proposed rule will only ruin the lives of more plant workers in an industry where hundreds of thousands of workers already suffer painful, debilitating injuries.
The Pander Games: Big Ag, Hispanic Workers, and the Rush to Deregulate -- May 8, 2012 -- Center for Progressive Reform
About the proposed rule and projected results of the rule
Latinos in the Poultry Processing Industry -- May 2012 -- National Council of La Raza
Struggles of Latino workers in the poultry industry and how the new legislation will only make matters worse
Cutting Costs and Courting Contamination: What Food Safety Budget Cuts Mean for Public Safety -- April 17, 2012 -- Center for Effective Government
The relationship between the Food Safety and Inspection Service and the Poultry Industry
Voices of Federal Food Safety Scientists and Inspectors -- Union of Concerned Scientists
UCS working with Iowa State University conducted a survey of over one thousand food inspection employees
Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection -- Food Safety and Services Inspection (USDA)
The questionable defense used by the USDA (see GAO report below which looks into the flaws of the system)
Privatization scan -- April 9, 2012 -- In the Public Interest
Item #2 is about protests and controversy surrounding the rule
The Age of Greed: Regulatory Look-Back In Action -- Speeding Up the Line and Endangering Workers at Poultry Processing Plants -- April 6, 2012 -- Center for Progressive Reform
How the poultry rule would be unfair and hazardous to workers but benefit big business
The Long-Term Health Outcomes of Selected Foodborne Pathogens -- 2009-- Center for Foodbone Illness (CFI)
Focuses on foodborne pathogens such as E. Coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, and Toxoplasma gondii
Safety in the Meat and Poultry Industry, while Improving, Could Be Further Strengthened -- January 2005-- Government Accountability Office (GAO)
Report evaluating USDA successes and failures in regulating the poultry industry
National Council of La Raza: Send a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
United Food & Commercial Workers International Union: Urge the USDA to Pull Its Reckless Poultry Rule
At chicken plants, chemicals blamed for health ailments are poised to proliferate- April 25, 2013- Washington Post
SPLC, other urge Adherholt to block poultry plant changes- April 16, 2013-The Gadsen Times
An Insider's Perspective on USDA's Problematic Poultry Rule -- September 26, 2012 -- Huffington Post
Proposal to change poultry slaughter process under renewed scrutiny -- September 24, 2012 - Government Executive
Advocates Ask USDA to Halt Poultry Inspection Plan -- September 21, 2012 -- Food Safety News
IS USDA playing chicken with chickens? -- June 20, 2012 -- LA Times
USDA plans to let chicken plants run faster with fewer inspectors -- June 6, 2012 -- LA Times
Worker safety concerns voiced in HIMP comment letters -- May 30, 2012 -- Food Chemical News
Proposed USDA Rules Jeopardize Consumers Health -- May 22, 2012 -- Intellectualyst
New Rules Mean New Hardship for Poultry Workers -- May 14, 2012 -- The Nation
Plan to Let Poultry Plants Inspect Birds Is Criticized -- April 4, 2012 -- New York Times
Safety concerns, industry changes push U.S. to rethink approach to food inspection -- March 4, 2012 --
Food and Worker Safety Experts to Unfurl 500,000 Signatures Outside Whitehouse - September 25, 2013
Letter opposing Agency Appropriations Act of 2014 and Cuts to Poultry Inspection - June 26, 2013-members of the Safe Food Coalition and the Worker Health and Safety Coalition
Obama Administration Proceeds with Privatized Poultry Inspection- April 16, 2013- Food Poisoning Bulletin
Groups Oppose President's Budget Assumptions on Finalization of USDA Poultry Rule- April 12, 2013- Coalition for Sensible Safeguards
Coalition of Consumer, Labor, Public Health, Civil Rights Groups Urges USDA to Withdraw Poultry Slaughter Proposal Due to Food Safety, Worker Safety Concerns -- September 20, 2012 - Coalition for Sensible Safeguards
What the Cluck’s on My Chicken? -- May 22, 2012 -- AFL-CIO
Proposed Regulation in Poultry Industry Poses Hazards For Latino Workers -- May 8, 2012 -- National Council of La Raza
New Poultry Rule Won't Be Putting Safe Chicken on Our Plates – April 20, 2012 -- (U.S. PIRG)
A good move: Administration gives people more time to weigh in on wrongheaded poultry rule -- April 19, 2012 -- Coalition for Sensible Safeguards
UFCW Opposes Big Poultry-Driven Inspection Rule -- April 11, 2012 -- (UFCW)
UFCW Applauds USDA for Extending Comment Period on Poultry Inspection Rule -- April 10, 2012 -- (UFCW)
Consumers deserve better than dirty chicken–- April 2, 2012 -- Food and Water Watch
Privatized meat inspection experiment jeopardizes food safety -– March 7, 2012 -- Food and Water Watch
Consumer group: Don’t scrap food safety protections to ease trade with Canada -– Jan. 30, 2012 --
Food and Water Watch
NCL offers concerns about new USDA poultry inspection plan -– Jan. 23, 2012 -- National Consumers League
CFA statement on USDA changes to poultry slaughter inspection –- Jan. 20, 2012 -- Consumer Federation of America
Consumer group opposes USDA’s privatization of poultry inspection –- Jan. 20, 2012 -- Food and Water Watch
USDA's poultry proposal: Proceed, but cautiously –- Jan. 20, 2012 -- Center for Science in the Public Interest, Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson
Secretary Vilsack, Don't Count Your Chicken- April 16, 2013- National Council of La Raza
"When in Doubt, Eat Potatoes" -- September 27, 2012 -- CitizenVox
Poultry Industry and USDA Wants to Put Dangerous Chicken on Your Plates -- September 25, 2012 -- Nasima Hossain, Public Health Advocate, U.S. PIRG
An Insider's Perspective on USDA's Problematic Poultry Rule -- September 24, 2012 -- Government Accountability Project
Is USDA serious? Inspecting a chicken in 1/3 of a second? -- September 24, 2012 -- Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH of George Washington University School of Public Health & Health Services
Crashing the USDA’s 150th Birthday Party -- June 28, 2012 -- Food and Water Watch
Message Received? GAP submits Whistleblower, Pubic Comments on Poultry Rule -- May 30, 2012 -- FIC
Maryland Set to Sign on Arsenic in Chicken -- May 24, 2012-- U.S. PIRG
Before You Fire Up the Grill This Summer… -- May 23, 2012 -- Dr. Oz
Proposed USDA Rule Change Puts Profits Before Worker Safety -- May 22, 2012 -- Southern Poverty Law Center
Obama's Plan to Stick It to Poultry Workers -- May 21, 2012 -- Mother Jones
Letting the fox guard the henhouse – literally -- April 6, 2012 -- Center for Effective Government
Move over pink slime -- March 9, 2012 -- Food and Water Watch