For Immediate Release

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Seth Gladstone – sgladstone@fwwatch.org

Privatized Inspection System Produces More Contaminated Chicken

Food & Water Watch Analysis Finds 30% of Plants Under New System Failed Performance Standard for Salmonella.

WASHINGTON - After over a one year delay, on January 23, 2018 the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection System (FSIS) finally posted the results of the agency’s regulatory sampling for salmonella in the nation’s poultry slaughter plants. When analyzed alongside documents obtained by Food & Water Watch last year, the test results reveal is that there is a greater propensity for chicken slaughter plants that converted to the New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS) to fail the agency’s salmonella performance standard.

NPIS removes most of the USDA inspectors from the slaughter line and turns inspection responsibilities over to company employees to perform. There is only one USDA inspector left on the slaughter line who is expected to inspect as many as three birds per second. When the USDA finalized the rule creating the new inspection system, its officials argued that it would reduce the incidence of salmonella.

“It’s clear that this privatized inspection system that was hyped as an improvement to food safety certainly isn’t,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “In fact, it has higher rates of contamination than slaughterhouses with more government oversight. This does not come as a surprise.” The poor performance by the plants under the new inspection system may explain why agency officials just denied the National Chicken Council’s petition to lift the cap on chicken plant line speeds across the industry. “We know that we will have to continue to be on guard so that they don’t increase line speeds one plant at a time,” said Hauter.

Because the USDA fails to disclose the plants that have converted to the new system, Food & Water Watch filed Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain that information. The last response was received on November 17, 2017. By comparing that list with the Salmonella verification testing results posted last week, Food & Water Watch found the following.

  • FSIS posted results for 206 chicken plants. Twenty-one plants were small and did not have enough samples to categorize. That left 185 plants for which the agency had enough sample results to put them in a category.
  • The agency posted test results for 43 of the 46 NPIS plants that processed young chickens.
  • Thirteen of the 43 NPIS plants failed the performance standard, or 30 percent. By comparison, only 18 of the 142 non-NPIS plants, or 13 percent, failed the performance standard.
  • One of the NPIS plants that failed – P6505 – has a line speed waiver so that it is able to run its slaughter line up to 175 birds per minute.
  • Thirteen of the 31 plants that failed the performance standard are NPIS plants, or 42 percent.

The NPIS plants that failed are the following:

Establishment No.CompanyCityState
M27389+P27389+V27389Pitman FarmsSangerCA
P910Harrison Poultry, Inc.BethlehemGA
P6505Norman W. Fries, Inc.ClaxtonGA
P7264+V7264Sanderson Farms, Inc.HammondLA
P18557Sanderson Farms, Inc.SummitMS
P19688+V19688Sanderson Farms, Inc.BryanTX
P19865+V19865House of Raeford Farms of LAArcadiaLA
P32182Sanderson Farms, Inc.MoultrieGA
P34308Sanderson Farms, Inc.WacoTX
P34668Simply Essentials Poultry, LLCCharles CityIA
P40183Sanderson Farms, Inc.KinstonNC
P45910Sanderson Farms, Inc.St PaulsNC
P510House Of Raeford FarmsRose HillNC

“These test results confirm what we suspected when the USDA first proposed this new inspection system in 2012 and it’s why we filed suit against the agency when it finally started to implement it. We call on the USDA to stop further implementation of NPIS and revoke the line speed waiver for the Norman W. Fries plant that failed the it salmonella testing,” said Tony Corbo, a senior lobbyist at Food & Water Watch. “Now, the USDA wants to extend this inspection model to hog slaughter with no line speed caps. The USDA should not publish this proposed rule because it will permit the industry to produce unsafe pork products.”

View the USDA salmonella testing results at: http://fwwat.ch/2EmB8MS

View the response to Food & Water Watch’s FOIA request on NPIS plants: https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/sites/default/files/copy_of_npis_plants_october_2017_copy_of_18-34_final_redacted.pdf

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