Demand Improved Oversight and Regulation at Slaughterhouses

meat

Target: Phyllis K. Fong, Inspector General for the Department of Agriculture

Goal: Get the Office of the Inspector General to hold meat producers accountable for violations and improve conditions at U.S. slaughterhouses.

An important role of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is to review food production to ensure its safety, which is done by way of the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The Office of the Inspector General at the USDA recently released a report that reveals that the FSIS has not been doing its job to stop repeated violations of food safety laws in slaughterhouses and has failed to oversee inspections. The report reveals tens of thousands of violations at slaughterhouses, which have only resulted in a handful of suspensions. These disgusting examples of illegal activity at slaughterhouses threaten consumer health and break the law by violating humane slaughter mandates. The USDA Inspector General must hold the FSIS accountable for these violations and not tolerate this failure oversee food safety. Meat must be produced humanly and safely in this country.

FSIS is guilty of failed oversight. Out of 44,128 identified violations of food safety laws at pig slaughterhouses, there were only 28 plant suspensions, and all were shortly unsuspended. Many of these violations threaten human health. For example, fecal contamination was found on a hog after the final trim, black liquid was found on processed meat, cockroaches swarmed the kill floor, and carcasses had fecal material which was yellow and fibrous as well as running abscesses. The horrific list goes on and on, yet FSIS never even reached a serious enforcement stage or gave notice of intended enforcement, let alone suspension.

This is also an animal rights issue as well as a human health issue. According to the report, top FSIS personnel don’t understand what the Humane Slaughter Act requires of them. Officials witnessed multiple instances of animals regaining consciousness after “stunning,” which is illegal and requires reporting. One-third of inspectors interviewed said they would not even issue a noncompliance report if they witnessed a conscious animal on the bleed rail. The only law in place that attempts to ensure animals are not violently abused and human safety is not compromised is basically ignored by the agency charged with enforcing it. Even their top personnel don’t understand what the law says. This is an egregious violation of both human and animal rights and requires immediate attention by the Inspector General.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Phyllis K. Fong,

A recent report released by your office reveals that the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has failed to oversee inspections at animal slaughterhouses and is guilty of egregious violations that put  animals through needless, inhuman suffering. These violations also threaten human health by producing contaminated meat. Out of 44,128 identified violations of food safety laws at pig slaughterhouses, only 28 plants received suspensions, and all were shortly unsuspended. The only law in place that attempts to ensure animals are not violently abused and human safety is not compromised is essentially ignored by the agency charged with enforcing it. According to the report, top FSIS personnel don’t understand what the Humane Slaughter Act requires of them. The USDA Inspector General must hold the FSIS accountable for these violations and not tolerate this failure oversee food safety.

Fecal contamination, pest infestation and other kinds of meat contamination such as running abscesses threaten human health. In addition, one-third of inspectors interviewed said they would not even issue a noncompliance report if they witnessed a conscious animal on the bleed rail, which violates the humane slaughter act. It is dire that these laws get enforced and the report has made it clear that enhanced monitoring and enforcement is needed by the Office of the Inspector General (OGI) is needed.  The OGI needs to do its job and require that meat is produced humanly and safely in this country.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: SolitudeWays via Flickr

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