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. Study: Tampa Bay a top market for homebuyers on the move

    Real Estate

    The Tampa Bay area is among the top markets for homebuyers who are likely to move in the next few months, ATTOM Data Solutions says.

    The Tampa Bay area is among the top markets for homebuyers who are likely to move in the next few months, a survey found.
[Associated Press file photo]
  2. Tampa lawyer Fred Ridley to be new chairman of Augusta National, Masters' home (w/ video)

    Golf

    AUGUSTA, Ga. — Fred Ridley first came to Augusta National to compete in the 1976 Masters as the U.S. Amateur champion, and he played the opening round in the traditional pairing with the defending champion, Jack Nicklaus.

  3. Rays send down Chase Whitley, Andrew Kittredge; add Chih-Wei Hu, activate Alex Cobb

    Blogs

    After having to cover more than five innings following a short start by Austin Pruitt, the Rays shuffled their bullpen following Wednesday's game, sending down RHPs Chase Whitley and Andrew Kittredge,

    The Kittredge move was expected, as he was summoned to add depth to the pen Wednesday in advance of RHP Alex …

  4. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred moves closer to wanting a decision on Rays stadium

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred called Wednesday for urgency from Tampa Bay area government leaders to prioritize and move quicker on plans for a new Rays stadium.

    MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred talks with reporters at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.
  5. Six home runs doom Rays in loss to Blue Jays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — A curve that didn't bounce was the difference Wednesday as the Rays lost 7-6 to the Blue Jays in front of 8,264, the smallest Tropicana field crowd since Sept. 5, 2006.

    Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (11) greets center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) at the plate after his two run home run in the third inning of the game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.