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Food Integrity Campaign Blog

Watching the Watchdog: Questions for USDA on Poultry Inspection

Food Integrity Campaign | October 17, 2014

Given USDA’s plan to move ahead with its New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS), federal lawmakers have agreed it’s time to hold the USDA accountable for claims that its new system will improve food safety and overall inspection. Today, 15 members of the House of Representatives sent a long list of questions to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack regarding how USDA intends to implement NPIS.

Questions for Secretary Vilsack covered areas such as staffing, food safety, worker safety and animal welfare. All good questions, many of which are concerns that FIC whistleblowers have shared in their affidavits.

Below are a few more questions that USDA whistleblowers would have added to the list:

1. According to one USDA inspector, NPIS attempts “to resolve real food safety issues with chemicals.” What does the agency have to say about concerns regarding general spraying of chemicals on all poultry rather than selective processing? How will inspectors and plant workers effectively do their job if many can’t even breathe due to excess chemical exposure?

2. Another whistleblower said “both [NPIS] pilot plants where I work continuously fail salmonella tests.” What steps will be taken to ensure reduced contamination? Will plants be removed from NPIS if contamination problems persist?

3. An industry insider said, “The pilot plant I worked in was a mess. I couldn’t believe how much fecal matter we were finding, and the agency constantly pressured us not to make a big deal out of it.” Under NPIS, will eliminating contamination remain a priority even if accurate reporting impedes plant productivity? Will there be safe outlets for workers to raise serious food safety concerns without fear of termination or transfer?

These are just a few of the questions we have.

Have more questions for USDA about NPIS? Share them in the comments.


Sarah Damian is Communications Manager for the Food Integrity Campaign.


  1. James Cleek says:

    And we thought you were there to protect the food supply?Report

  2. Irene saurwein says:

    How is FDA going to monitor how chicken are humanely killed.
    Not living in their own feces, not being buried alive or chopped up while still alive. Those are horrific acts.Report

  3. Lacey Woodruff says:

    What will be done about the disgusting conditions that chickens live in on factory farms? They are put in tiny cages and stacked at least 5 high then all of the waste just goesw through the holes down into the next cage.Report

  4. Richard V. Greco says:

    Why is there such a problem with raw chicken and bacteria now days? There did not used to be . We are told, over and over, to NOT wash your raw chicken as it causes bacteria to be scattered all over the work area. And the emphasize that you should “wash your hands several times” while working with raw poultry in the kitchen.Report

  5. Annie McCombs says:

    Until corporations are redirected from caring only about “their” bottom line, until we change their priorities to include a broader base of the “common good,” the environment, workers, consumers, and animals will continue to be abused. This means that I consider corporate bottom line mentality to be like other perps who care nothing for their victims. The People’s tax paid politicians and regulators are also culpable for bowing before corporate power. Getting corporate money out of our government is the highest priority. The US has become a “company town” like existed in past centuries. Thugs included.Report

  6. Alicia says:

    In response to Richard V. Greco: I strongly believe that the “advice” we hear over and over again about NOT washing the chicken when we bring it home from the supermarket or at the time of preparation has an underline of self-interest…. from whom and by whom, I cannot really pinpoint to, but no ordinary person that cares about what he or she is eating, and or cooking for her/his family is going to follow that advice; doing the opposite is asking for trouble. If we follow the thread from the moment that chicken hatched from their egg, all the way thru the processing plant, transportation, and handling of ALL produce and meats in supermarkets is not something I am going to leave to the advice of an “expert” that probably never boiled water in his/her life. There are a lot of people that are doing exactly what they were told to do, regardless of their inexperience their writings appear in blogs, food columns, ‘industry experts’, you name it…. those writings have the color of money behind them, what can I tell you. As for me, I’ll go the extra mile and wash the chicken with plenty of cold water and rinse with some white vinegar, put it in a colander to drain all the liquid and then proceed to marinate it. Pretty much with all the other meats too. And then I scrub the sink and counter with more vinegar or even some bleach. Never had a problem with
    contaminated meats.Report

  7. Marie says:

    Where are the decent people who will own, manage, work in the new humane poultry “factories”, whether big places or small?
    How do we get rid of the psychopaths that run these places now?.. How do we sort out and prevent the people that sadistically or obtusely abuse and neglect (any animal for that matter!) from owning and hiring more people of the same ilk? I think poultry farms should be easy to get to, see, and check on. (not hidden off a long road off the highway and the like) ..And maybe it should be mandatory that they all have way more cameras inside than some do and be required to send in their film in (could be tampered with but better than nothing).
    There should be enforceable and substantial penalties (that would make a big dent in the perpetrator, not a tiny fine they can laugh off) for anyone caught torturing or debasing any animal, specifically here, the poultry.
    “Plainclothes” onsite working investigators who videotape should be everywhere and this should be a funded.
    Or, we could always do without eating our fellow creatures to begin with and at worst, individual families or the community gardens be allowed to have a hen or two for eggs to eat instead.
    I ask the same question as Irene S, and I agree with what Annie McCombs has said above.
    I don ‘t know what we can do at the moment other than to refuse to buy any poultry (or other farm animal meat) until what WE want and how WE want it .. humane treatment and respect for the poultry and other animals.. is put into place, funded, and ‘policed’.Report

  8. Terri Betz says:

    Who will be legally responsible for young and old deaths that will occur because of these filthy conditions?Report

  9. Laurie LaGoe says:

    I will not buy meat in the grocery store. I especially refuse to buy chicken. Throughout my life poultry started to taste worse and worse. When I dieted I was suppose to eat skinless poultry. I cannot stand skinless poultry. The skin is the most tasty part. Skinless poultry tastes either bland or tastes awful. I read about the great speed-up in the poultry processing plants and it turns me more against eating poultry.Report

  10. Linda says:

    I stopped eating because of how they kill the chickens and feces contamination of the feces and the arsenic level in them. It seems ow that everything we eat and drink is poisoned. Hormones in beef and pork and this disgusting mess in chickens. I stopped eating meat, but they put the GMO grown vegetables and fruits out there unless you buy organic, and even then you don’t know if they are. Fluoride and aluminum in the water. So much for progress.Report

  11. Jan says:

    Will you and your family eat the non-inspected, factory-farmed, chemically processed chicken you expect the rest of us to eat?Report

  12. Stephen Zettel says:

    How will USDA fulfill its mandate to protect the food safety of American citizens while slashing its independent oversight of food producers, all in the name of preserving corporate profits?Report

  13. Graciela Huth says:

    Everyday I am confused about the attitude of the Agencies we created to protect our environment, our health, our clean water, and mostly the food we consume. I simply do not understand why those agencies are working for the corporations and not for our well being. We pay their salaries, their perks, their benefits, their retirement, etc. We are the 98% that has the tax deductions automatically done from our salaries. We do not have loopholes where to hide our income from our daily work. However, we are the least important factor for these agencies. Why do we keep them? They are not working for our interests. Why don’t we erase all these Agencies and create new ones with employees – particularly at the top – that want to do the jobs they are paid for? We, the people, are the most powerful element in our society. Let’s use that power to bring back progressive development into our system.Report

  14. Carisa says:

    Why is my hard earned taxpayer money paying fools at the USDA who allow inhumane and toxic chemicals to be used in our food supply. I have RA and since cutting out dairy, meat & eggs I have no symptoms. A lot of diseases are caused from the way food is processed. Put these people out of work and go vegetarian!Report

  15. Lisa Scharin says:

    I truly believe that the USDA and the FDA along with Wildlife Services should ALL be reformed, audited, etc! Time to change the systems ALL together! I am waiting for a total collapse of our food system! Not only our factory farms MAJOR polluters-emitting more CO2 than ALL our transportation combined, they use and pollute millions of gallons of our precious water, take up most of our land. It is NOT sustainable, NOT moral or ethical either! The treatment of these animals is an abomination against GOD and ALL that is humane and decent! I am SO THANKFUL I am VEGAN! A plant-based diet is not only more sustainable, humane, it is FAR healthier! IF we didn’t have to feed all these farm animals the grains we feed them, we could END world hunger! These animals also eat more food than they provide to people that eat them! I DARE people to watch “Farm to Fridge”, “Meet your Meat”, also watch “Cowspiracy”, “Food Inc.”, ” Forks over Knives”. Learn the TRUTH! IF these “farms” had glass walls, NO ONE would eat these poor, suffering animals!!! It is repulsive and also the reason we now have superbugs and cannot combat diseases with antibiotics! 80% of antiobiotics are fed to these animals just to keep them alive long enough for them to be slaughtered for you to put in your body?? How repulsive is that??? You ARE what YOU eat! 16 common diseases have been linked to animal product consumption. Just the thought of rotting flesh, fat, blood and bone inside your gut just makes me want to PUKE!!!!!!!!!! Yeah the USDA is FULL of crap and so is the food they approve! Time to FIRE these morons and totally reform our system! Going Vegan is the BEST thing YOU can do for your health, the environment and of course, animals!!Report

  16. Samitha Jenano says:

    Get rid of theses mega-plants and put food production back in the hands of the farmers who take pride in their products and take care that they are safe and high quality.
    At least hire people in the factory farms/ plants who have qualifications and stop the abuse of workers by the goons supervising the lines!Report

  17. Nina Garcia says:

    Who oversees and ensures that the chickens are not being tampered with. For example, one chicken farmer allows his children to handle and play with the chickens. First of all, they don’t need to be in there for health and safety issues for the kids, let alone the chickens!Report

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