by CHASE PURDY
Increased line speeds and fewer federal inspectors are a cause for concern at three Hormel pork processing plants participating in a USDA inspection pilot project, says the Government Accountability Project. Four USDA inspectors have come forward to complain about conditions in those plants.
“We went from having seven inspectors assigned to the slaughter line to only three physically on the line now,” recounts Joe Ferguson, a 23-year inspector, in an affidavit provided to GAP’s Food Integrity Campaign as part of its report. “Line speeds are running 1,300 carcasses per hour and the company is killing as many as 19,000 hogs per day…It’s impossible to see any defects now.”
The USDA maintains a November 2014 evaluation shows those facilities were on par with others operating under other inspection systems, but that additional analyses would be required to determine its impact on foodborne illness rates.