Tell the USDA: Protect our food supply. No cuts to meat inspections.
You could be in for a terrible surprise in the near future when you buy or eat meat. That's because Donald Trump's Department of Agriculture is looking to cut the federal pork inspection workforce by 40%.1
Under this proposal, the USDA will replace highly trained federal food inspectors at meat processing facilities with plant employees who may have little to no training and would be responsible for identifying diseased or contaminated meat. In addition, there would be no limits on slaughter-line speeds. The results could be catastrophic: Failing to identify diseased animals could result in a massive public health disaster across the country, costing lives and billions to our economy.
This dangerous policy could be implemented as soon as next month. We must speak out now to stop this plan to further deregulate the meat industry before it goes into effect.
Tell the USDA: No cuts to federal meat inspections.
Working in a pork slaughterhouse is fast-paced and dangerous – plant workers handle pig carcasses weighing up to 270 pounds at a rate of 977 per hour. Even without Trump's reckless plan, meat packing workers already suffer illness and injury 2.5 times the national average, and they are seven times more likely to suffer lifelong injuries due to repetitive motion.2 Speeding up the process could lead to more injuries for workers, many of whom are immigrants and people of color.
Shifting inspection responsibilities to plant workers could make matters even worse. Strict food processing regulations – including food inspections performed by competent, trained professionals – are essential to a safe food supply. But under the Trump plan, plant employees would be required to identify contaminated meat, and their training would be left up to the plant owners. One USDA food safety whistleblower characterized the scale of the problem during a pilot program this way:
"Not only are plant supervisors not trained, the employees taking over USDA’s inspection duties have no idea what they are doing. Most of them come into the plant with no knowledge of pathology or the industry in general."3
Recent events in the aviation industry prove that relaxing regulations and handing over inspections to the industry itself is not only unsafe, it also has dire consequences. After two recent crashes of Boeing 737 Max airplanes killed more than 300 people, some are now questioning the cozy relationship and conflicts of interest between the Federal Aviation Administration and the airline industry, since the "agency had delegated to Boeing much of the testing of its 737 Max jets."4
The Trump administration is already looking ahead to giving beef processors the ability to inspect their own plants, so it's important now more than ever to speak out and stop the USDA's disastrous plan.
Thanks for everything you do.
- Kimberly Kindy, "Pork industry soon will have more power over meat inspections," The Washington Post, April 3, 2019
- Tom Philpott, "Trump Is About to Make the Pork Industry Responsible for Inspecting Itself," Mother Jones, April 5, 2019.
- "Affidavit of a food inspection whistleblower," accessed April 11, 2019.
- Brian Naylor, "Not Just Airplanes: Why The Government Often Lets Industry Regulate Itself," NPR, April 4, 2019.