CSPI Advises USDA to Scuttle Proposed Poultry Inspection Changes

Statement of CSPI Senior Food Safety Staff Attorney Sarah Klein


The U.S. Department of Agriculture should scuttle its plans to speed up production lines and reduce the number of government inspectors for poultry. The government does not have enough evidence that the existing hog and poultry pilot programs—on which the new poultry program is based—have succeeded in resulting in safer meat. That's abundantly clear in the wake of the Government Accountability Office and the USDA Inspector General's findings.

CSPI supports modernizing the meat and poultry inspection system, but only if pilot projects demonstrate clear benefits. But modernization must works for consumers' benefit, not just industry's. Until the agency develops a better system supported by the science, it should refrain from changing the poultry inspection program. While you can't see Salmonella, it's clear that these carcasses are whizzing by too fast for inspectors to keep the product free even from visible contamination.

Equally troubling is the fact that GAO doesn't think the agency has been up front with the public about the limitations in the evidence or the cost-benefit analysis the agency relied upon to make its case. And, it certainly doesn't inspire confidence that USDA wouldn't even respond to The Washington Post's latest inquiries about these programs.