The American Federation of Government Employees says a USDA proposal to largely outsource poultry inspections functions and speed the visual inspection process is in violation of federal law. The group says the plan must not be allowed to proceed. In comments submitted to USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service – AFGE Assistant General Counsel Matthew Milledge notes the 1957 federal law requires federal inspectors to perform a careful examination of the carcass of every bird processed to determine its fitness for purchase. He wrote that it exceeds the bounds of logic and common sense to reasonably contend that one person can carefully examine more than 80-thousand chickens per workday when the carcasses whiz past the inspector at a rate of three chickens per second. While USDA asserts these changes would improve food safety – Milledge says the proposal will ensure increased numbers of adulterated poultry enter the marketplace – endangering the health and safety of consumers.
AGFE – the nation’s largest federal employee union – is not alone in its opposition to the proposed regulations. More than 16-thousand people have signed a petition on the White House website urging the Administration to withdraw the proposed rule.