For Immediate Release
President’s Budget Saves Pittance on the Backs of Poultry Workers and Consumers
WASHINGTON - “Today President Obama released his 2015 budget showing that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s budget for the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is being cut to implement the ‘Modernization of Poultry Inspection Rule’. We think a better name is ‘The Filthy Chicken Rule’.
“This irresponsible cut will essentially privatize poultry inspections, putting the big poultry companies in charge of food safety while removing U.S. government meat inspectors from the job. To add insult to injury, it will move slaughter line speeds up from 140 to 175 birds a minute. This rule is a disaster for poultry workers and consumers alike, and we call upon the administration to protect food safety, not meat industry profits.
“The USDA cites its estimates that the rule would prevent 5,000 foodborne illnesses, but the agency refuses to elaborate how they derived those numbers—and no independent assessment has been made that would back them up. In fact, in March and April 2013, the USDA reported that two of the poultry plants that have been part of the pilot program to use the privatized inspection model actually failed the government’s salmonella testing program.
“The federal government’s Government Accountability Office (GAO) has called the results of the pilot program for this filthy chicken rule into question. The GAO report evaluated 20 young chicken and five young turkey plants and found gaping methodological flaws in the pilot project. It questioned how FSIS could use its flawed evaluation of the pilot project as the basis to propose expanding privatized inspections across the entire poultry industry.
“Each year, food poisoning from contaminants like salmonella result in 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths in the United States. This is no time to privatize meat inspections and put companies in charge of food safety. Congress should reject the President’s proposal to privatize vital food safety inspection programs and fully fund FSIS.”
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.