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US Government to Deregulate Meat Industry

Government is increasingly moving to prevent federal meat inspectors from exercising their authority at slaughter plants and instead allowing private industry to regulate itself.  In 1998, the USDA rolled out its trial “Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points” (HACCP) program.  Noting its deregulatory spirit, meat inspectors and industry watchdogs quickly dubbed it, “Have a Cup of Coffee and Pray.” HACCP intended to replace meat inspectors’ old-fashioned “poke and sniff” method of visually examining carcasses with advanced microbiology techniques. But it is also an “honors system,” where federal inspectors simply ratify companies’ self-regulation.

In October 2013 a coalition of food and worker safety advocates gathered to protest USDA’s plan to implement HACCP across the US after its long-term use at pilot locations. “Instead of trained USDA inspectors, companies will police themselves,” says activist group sumofus.org. “Chickens will spend more time soaking in contaminants and poultry plants are compensating by washing them in chlorine.”

The expansion, HIMP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point-Based Inspection Models Project), will reduce the number of poultry inspectors while increasing use of antimicrobial sprays to control bacteria. Inspectors would be reassigned to ends of assembly line so they could not intercept unacceptable birds, only view them as they go by. It would also allow only one side of the bird to be examined. Birds once considered unacceptable can now end up remaining on the line, only to be dipped in disinfectants like chlorine to reduce disease risk, say food advocates.

In addition, under the new HACCP/HIMP rules, bruises, scabs, sores, blisters, infections and tumors on chickens will no longer be deemed “Other Consumer Protections” (OCPs) and removed. When half a carcass is “covered with an inflammatory process” it can be “salvaged” for food, an anonymous poultry inspector observes.

Source: Martha Rosenberg, “Get Ready for Extra Helpings of Feces, Pus and Chlorine on Your Plate: America is Deregulating Its Meat Industry,” Alternet.org, October 4, 2013, http://www.alternet.org/food/get-ready-extra-helpings-feces-pus-and-chlorine-your-plate-america-deregulating-its-meat.

Student Researcher: Nikolle Palazzolo (Florida Atlantic University)

Faculty Evaluator: James F. Tracy (Florida Atlantic University)

  • marcos anthony toledo March 18, 2014

    So it’s back to the days described in Sinclair Lewis The Jungle buyer beware capitalist fools.

  • hayek March 18, 2014

    If you think that you will find ribeye steaks and top sirloin with pus and tumors, you are an idiot. People bid up the higher-quality products, even in a somewhat-free market. Of course the cheaper stuff sucks, that’s why it’s cheap. You get what you pay for. Nobody buys McDonald’s expecting filet mignon, but you can be damn sure that those that sell filet mignon are competing to make the highest quality at the lowest price (just as McDonald’s does with other fast-food chains).

    Market competition always drives quality up and prices down, cetus paribus. Monopolies, which only survive through government intervention (as else, they face market competition), drive quality down and prices up. Why do you think the government isn’t trusted to make food or shoes? Why do you think that the police are terrible at preventing real crime, but cost you more every year as they commit more crimes themselves every year? Why do you think Capitol Hill gets progressively worse and worse, while getting more and more expensive?

    Do you really think that the “evil capitalists” (who are just workers in a complex, decentralized system like you or I) would sell us toasters that blow up and chicken riddled with cancer? Who the hell would buy that crap? Any company selling pork oozing pus or computers that light on fire would go out of business pretty damn quickly. Lack of understanding of simple economics is on full display here, and at its most vulgar and idiotic.

    Keep on believing this utter statist tripe…

    • Darren Mitton March 27, 2014

      By your very position of “don’t believe this – trust the free-market!”, you make your bias (and your benefactors’ interests) quite blatant to anyone.

  • Margaret Koster March 18, 2014

    Time to switch to vegan and as much local and homegrown as possible!

  • Roch March 18, 2014

    Deregulation –especially of foods is not wise, we can take a look at China and see the harm done. Am always amazed at Conservatives/Republicans/TeaParts who always want LESS/NO government in the USA as the 2013 Republican Shut-Down and YET want MORE government by the USA throughout the world -we have to get involved everywhere, as Ukraine. But WHY and HOW is that effectively done? It makes no sense, unless one understands their definition of government is NOT the USConstituition definition. Then it makes sense.

  • Laurence Almand March 18, 2014

    Another example of government carelessness and lack of responsibility. In view of all the salmonella outbreaks over the past few years, we need more inspection and regulation, not less!
    Read Upton Sinclair’s THE JUNGLE to find out what happens when the government gives the meat packers free rein.

  • Scott Wheeler March 18, 2014

    I think it’s time to go vegan and eat only from mine or a known garden!

  • Sheldon Bodryn March 19, 2014

    Yet another reason to go vegetarian.

  • Bill Cornelius March 19, 2014

    The purpose of governments is to protect it’s citizens. Allowing the meat industry to regulate itself is the same as allowing them to serve their own best interest. Please check out this book: The Meat Racket: The Secret Takeover of America’s Food Business. By Christopher Leonard.

  • Vera Gottlieb March 24, 2014

    ‘Policing itself’…this should send shivers down anyone’s spine. Carte blanche for ‘do as you please, just don’t get caught’. Dishonesty flows through many an American vein.

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