For Immediate Release
Six Months Later, U.S. Still Importing Contaminated Meat From Australia
Statement by Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch
WASHINGTON - “Six months to the day that Food & Water Watch sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack enumerating how the Australian Export Meat Inspection System (AEMIS) led to an increase in import rejections of unsafe Australian meat, we sent a new letter today arguing that the problems with the privatized inspection system have not improved.
“We’re calling on Secretary Vilsack to start the process to revoke the equivalency status of Australia’s privatized inspection system AEMIS. The latest import rejections for visible fecal and ingesta contamination point to a failed system. USDA recognized this privatized this inspection model in 2011 in its haste to backdoor a privatized inspection system here in the United States. What the Australian experience has shown is that turning over meat inspection to the companies to police themselves does not work.
“My latest letter to Secretary Vilsack points out several ways in which food safety is neglected with this AEMIS equivalency determination, particularly because it is based on the HACCP-based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) in five U.S. hog slaughter plants. A recent USDA Office of Inspector General Audit report criticized USDA for not evaluating HIMP for its food safety implications and pointed out that two of the HIMP plants had among the largest numbers of non-compliance reports filed by USDA inspectors for not meeting food safety regulations.
“It is unconscionable that we are putting U.S. consumers at risk by endorsing a failed inspection model here in the U.S. for other countries to adopt. Two wrongs do not make a right.”
The full letter can be viewed here: http://documents.foodandwaterwatch.org/doc/Vilsack_letter_AEMIS_July_2_2...
Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.