It's a really sad day for the birds. The USDA and Big Agriculture have belched out yet another terrible idea: Private companies will now inspect their mutant chickens themselves.
Here's the new game plan, according to proposed plans from USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service: Instead of government inspectors on the assembly line making sure chickens don't come through with, say— feces, bile, or blemishes—they're going to put private factory employees to the task of looking after our safety. In practice, says The New York Times, it seems we've got a wee bit of a pickle:
Several inspectors who work at plants where the pilot program is in place said the main problem is that they are removed from positions on the assembly line and put at the end of the line, which makes it impossible for them to spot diseased birds. The inspectors, whose names were redacted, said they had observed numerous instances of poultry plant employees allowing birds contaminated with fecal matter or other substances to pass. And even when the employees try to remove diseased birds, they face reprimands, the inspectors said.
Sure, that does sound hard, but what about making strides in "productivity"? Instead of the average 140 chickens per minute it now slaughters, this "new-and-improved" model will allow them to slaughter 200 chickens per minute. That gives the employees—all the way from the cheap seats in the back—roughly 0.3 seconds to spot a dirty bird. This, all while slashing costs. According to some estimates, the privatization would save $90 million by axing over 800 inspector positions. Surely, what the food system needs is less regulation right now.
This charming brainchild is coming on the heels of an alarming study finding Benadryl, Prozac, Illegal Antibiotics, Tylenol, and Arsenic in poultry consumed in the United States. At this point, I'm not sure a little poop on the outside even matters.
[via New York Times, Image via Getty]