USDA to Allow Chicken Industry to Self-Regulate

The USDA is laying off 1,000 inspectors to cut costs, effectively deregulating factory-farm conditions.


Last month, the US Department of Agriculture revealed plans to lay off roughly 1,000 poultry-plant inspectors over the next three years in hopes of increasing efficiency and modernizing the industry, but activists express concern that chicken-processing companies cannot be trusted to regulate their own operations without compromising food safety and quality control. While the USDA would be saving roughly $85 million through the move, poultry companies would also be permitted to increase the speed of their processing lines from 90 birds per minute to 175, increasing the risk of foodborne disease, covert tumors, and other potential contaminants. Government-accountability group OMB Watch, for example, points out that 2010 showed record highs in salmonella infection, and in 2011, there were 103 poultry, egg, and meat recalls due to bacterial contamination.

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