Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

USDA pilot program fails to catch contamination

WASHINGTON — A meat inspection program that the Agriculture Department plans to roll out in pork plants nationwide has repeatedly failed to stop plants' production of contaminated meat, documents and interviews show.

The program allows meat producers to increase the speed of processing lines and cuts the number of USDA safety inspectors at each plant in half, replacing them with private inspectors. Under a pilot program, the approach has been used for more than a decade by five American hog plants. But three of these plants were among the 10 worst in the country for health and safety violations, with serious lapses that included failing to remove fecal matter from meat, according to a report this spring by the USDA inspector general.

In these cases, the contaminated meat did not leave the plants because it was caught by government inspectors at the end of the processing line. But federal officials consider this too late in the process.

One week before the USDA inspector general's office issued the critical report this spring, Elisabeth Hagen, the USDA's undersecretary for food safety, told the Food Chemical News, a trade publication, that the pilot initiative has produced safety results the department is "comfortable with and confident in."

Others involved are concerned.

"There is a lot of controversy surrounding this program," said Patricia Buck, co-founder of the Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention. "We should not be putting it out there, saying it is OK for other countries to use, when it has so many flaws and when contaminated meat is coming in."

USDA pilot program fails to catch contamination 09/09/13 [Last modified: Monday, September 9, 2013 12:45am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Washington Post.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Spencer: 'A better and more beautiful world if people like me were in power'

    K12

    In the a small theater crammed with cameras, Richard Spencer and a small group of his coordinators clashed with reporters as his controversial speech in the Phillips Center drew near Thursday.

    A crowd gathers ahead of Richard Spencer's appearance at the University of Florida on Oct. 19, 2017. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]
  2. Analysis: George W. Bush's unmistakable takedown of Trumpism - and Trump

    Columns

    For the last nine years, George W. Bush has largely stayed out of presidential politics; he declined to criticize his successor, Barack Obama, and he chose not to endorse but largely ignored President Donald Trump. While Mitt Romney and others spoke out publicly against Trump, Bush stayed above the fray.

    That …

    Former President George W. Bush speaks at a forum sponsored by the George W. Bush Institute in New York on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. [Seth Wenig | Associated Press]
  3. Fennelly: Even frustrated Bucs fans hold out hope

    Blogs

    Many fans wrote back when I threw out an all-points the other day, asking if Bucs fans are perpetually in a state of expecting the worst.

    Bucs fans cheer during a preseason game against the Washington Redskins in August at Raymond James Stadium.
  4. 'The Walking Dead' marks 100 episodes with Easter eggs in Season 8 premiere

    Blogs

    The hit zombie series has come a long way since Rick Grimes woke up from a coma and entered a post-apocalyptic world overrun with the undead.

    Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead Season 8.
  5. Canterbury head of school to step down as board 'works to regain trust'

    Blogs

    Mac Hall, the head of school for Canterbury School of Florida in St. Petersburg, will step down from his role of 13 years at the end of the school year.

    Canterbury School of Florida's graduating class of 2010 walks towards St. Peter's Episcopal Church before their ceremony in downtown St. Petersburg. Their head of school, Mac Hall, will not return to the school next year.