According to a 2014 Harris Poll, 73 percent of Americans think there should be more government oversight of the food supply.
Someone should alert the USDA, since the agency is proposing the exact opposite: the removal of government inspectors in poultry plants and transferring their duties to private industry workers (who are not empowered to speak up when a food safety threat arises).
The majority of U.S. adults say food recalls have them at least somewhat concerned (86%, with 58% somewhat concerned and 28% seriously concerned). No surprise there. In the first five days of February alone, there have already been at least six food recalls reported. Consumers say they would like to see “more government oversight in regards to food safety.” Half of those surveyed said they hold the firm who packaged/processed the food responsible for more health and safety issues in recent years.
The USDA’s plan for deregulated poultry processing inspection clearly goes against the public interest.
In case you missed it, the front-page story of the latest Consumer Reports (CR), “The High Cost of Cheap Chicken,” highlights threats to consumer health in the chicken industry, including the concerns of USDA whistleblowers who came to FIC about their experiences at pilot plants already implementing the agency’s inspection plan. The article explains that inspectors “allege that they were pressured to overlook possible food safety concerns to keep the lines running.”
FIC and our coalition partners sent a letter to Congress urging the rejection of a budget proposal for the changes. The USDA inspectors continue to voice their concerns, and now the public has also sent a message that more government oversight – not less – is needed. Hopefully the USDA will listen to one of us.
Sarah Damian is Communications Manager for the Food Integrity Campaign.