Protecting Food. Empowering Whistleblowers.

Food Integrity Campaign Blog

Celebrating Food Truth-Tellers on National Whistleblower Appreciation Day!

Food Integrity Campaign | July 30, 2014

Today is National Whistleblower Appreciation Day! This important occasion was established last year to recognize the brave contributions of whistleblowers to combat waste, fraud, abuse and violations of laws. Every worker along the food supply chain is a potential witness to wrongdoing, and the Food Integrity Campaign aims to ensure these individuals have adequate rights and know how to use them.

FIC Director Amanda Hitt will be speaking on a panel about the gap in current whistleblower protection legislation against criminal retaliation. It shouldn’t be a crime to report a crime, but many truth-tellers face the threat of prosecution as retaliatory managers find news methods of retribution. Amanda will be discussing the problematic Ag Gag bills sweeping the nation that are designed to silence agriculture whistleblowers. Here are the panel details:

From Firings to Criminal Referrals: The Changing Face of Whistleblower Retaliation
Wednesday, July 30, 11:00am – 12:00pm
441 Cannon House Office Bldg, C St. SE, Washington, DC

Panelists include:
Amanda Hitt (FIC), Tom Devine (Legal Director, Government Accountability Project), Tristan Leavitt (Investigative Counsel, Senate Judiciary Committee), and Pete Sepp (Executive Vice President, National Taxpayers Union). Whistleblowers have risked their livelihoods for the sake of food safety, animal welfare, the environment, worker rights, and transparency. Here’s a short list of food whistleblowers for whom we should be thankful!
  • Jim Schrier and Dr. Dean Wyatt, USDA employees who witnessed humane handling violations at slaughterhouses
  • Sherry Medina and Phyllis McKelvey, USDA poultry inspectors who revealed the dangers of chemical use in poultry plants and high-speed poultry processing.
  • Renee Dufault, FDA employee who exposed traces of mercury in foods containing HFCS
  • USDA Meat Inspectors, who have voiced their concerns and shared their disclosures with FIC investigators.

Each one of these individuals took a big risk simply by speaking the truth. Ideally, such an action would not result in a transfer or a firing or any form of retaliation, but challenges remain as we continue the effort to build a culture that rewards, rather than penalizes, truth-telling. Join the movement!

Sarah Damian is Communications Manager for the Food Integrity Campaign.