FIC successfully advocated for the gold-standard whistleblower protections found in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). FSMA was the most comprehensive food safety reform in a century. After the bill was signed into law, FIC held a conference at George Washington School of Law and invited whistleblowers, advocates, and legal practitioners to consider the impact of the new whistleblower provision.
An ABC News report featured FIC whistleblower Kit Foshee, whose disclosure about “lean finely textured beef” (often referred to as “pink slime”) captured national attention. The media learned that the product was found in most of America’s hamburgers. Consumers were outraged at this revelation, forcing food companies and the National School Lunch Program to stop using the product.
In November 2009, Government Accountability Project held a conference at the American University Washington College of Law that addressed the many transparency and accountability issues that arise in industrial agriculture. It was clear there was urgent need for reform, and from that conference, FIC was born.
Affidavits from meat inspector whistleblowers bolstered a food safety coalition lawsuit against the USDA. The lawsuit argued that the USDA’s HACCP-Based Inspection Model Project (HIMP) plan illegally replaced federal inspectors with plant workers for certain meat inspection tasks. The courts agreed, requiring USDA to put inspectors back on the line.
Employees of the grocery chain Food Lion approached Government Accountability Project with reports of egregious food safety violations at their stores in North Carolina. They described witnessing practices such as putting expired meat in sausage, concealing evidence of meat spoilage, and ignoring rampant cockroach and rodent infestations. Fearing retaliation from management, these employees relied on us to protect their identities. Those fears proved to be well-founded. ABC aired a scathing investigative report about Food Lion’s misdeeds, and Food Lion’s stock value plummeted. Food Lion then waged a ten-year legal battle..Read More
Dr. Carl Telleen, a Government Accountability Project client, raised highly-publicized concerns about USDA’s New Line Speed inspection system, a form of privatizing poultry inspection. He specifically criticized the practice of putting carcasses in a common bath he nicknamed “fecal soup.”
Food integrity has been a part of Government Accountability Project from the very beginning. The conference that served as the impetus to establish Government Accountability Project featured a food whistleblower, John Coplin, a USDA meat grader. Coplin spent thirty years fighting bribery in the USDA meat grading and inspection system. His disclosures lead to criminal investigations and jail time for offenders.