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Many fed inspectors to leave poultry slaughter lines

A final rule issued by the Department of Agriculture will remove hundreds of USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service inspectors from poultry slaughterhouses across the country and turn their duties over to slaughterhouse employees.

A final rule issued by the Department of Agriculture will remove hundreds of USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service inspectors from poultry slaughterhouses across the country and turn their duties over to slaughterhouse employees.

The American Federation of Government Employees, which represents federal poultry inspectors, condemned the rule.

“The Obama administration’s final poultry slaughter inspection rule—which was crafted by USDA and approved by [the Office of Management and Budget]—will destroy effective oversight of our country’s poultry slaughterhouses," AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said in a statement. "This final rule will remove 800 federal inspectors from the slaughterhouses and turn over their inspection responsibilities to company-paid employees, leaving American consumers to pay the price."

“It is unconscionable that the Obama administration, which has in other circumstances worked so hard to encourage Americans to eat healthy food, is willing to create greater risk to the public’s food safety by privatizing the country’s poultry slaughter inspection system," Cox said.

Food & Water Watch, a public interest group, also denounced the change.

"With the poultry industry standing to gain financially due to increased production and fewer regulatory requirements, the plan is a gift from the Obama administration to the industry, one that will undermine consumer and worker safety, as well as animal welfare," said Wenonah Hauter, the group's executive director.

While a proposal to increase the top slaughter line speed from the current maximum of 140 birds per minute to 175 birds per minute was dropped from the final rule, Hauter noted that the one USDA inspector who will remain on each slaughter line still will have to inspect 2.33 birds every second, which she called "an impossible task."

See more at: www.afge.org/Index.cfm?Page=PressReleases&PressReleaseID=1668.

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