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New Documents Show Privatized Hog Inspection Scheme Rife With Food Safety Violations

WASHINGTON - Documents obtained by Food & Water Watch and reported by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and The Guardian today show that five hog slaughter plants piloting the New Swine Inspection System—which decreases the number of government safety inspectors and replaces them with the company’s own employees—have significant violations including fecal contamination, sanitation issues and failure to remove diseased carcasses from the food chain.

“We weren’t surprised that the pilot program failed to uphold food safety standards, but we were surprised at how it failed so miserably,” said Tony Corbo, Senior Lobbyist with Food & Water Watch. “The USDA needs to withdraw the proposed rule that would expand the program to even more plants.”

Food & Water requested food safety performance data from the USDA under the Freedom of Information Act for the five hog HIMP plants as well as five comparably-sized hog plants operating under traditional inspection, for the period from January 1, 2012 through November 30, 2016. It analyzed the regulatory violations filed over this nearly five-year period in these 10 plants and found that.

  • HIMP plants received 84% of the non-compliance reports filed for problems with food safety plans; 73% of the reports filed for carcass contamination with feces, bile, hair or dirt; 65% of the reports filed for general carcass contamination; and 61% of the reports filed for equipment sanitation.   
  • Over the five-year period, there were 22 instances – all occurring in the HIMP plants – in which a USDA on-line inspector discovered that a plant employee failed to identify a carcass so infected that consumption of the meat could cause food poisoning.
  • The 3,562 non-compliance reports filed in HIMP plants included 7,169 regulatory violations.

For more information, or to download sample reports from the five plants, visit https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/insight/translating-new-swine-inspection-system.

To see the report by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and The Guardian, visit https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/stories/2018-02-21/dirty-us-meat-could-come-over-here-after-brexit.

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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.

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