(NAFB)--A group of food safety organizations has asked U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to cancel agreements with foreign countries allowed to use a controversial alternative meat inspection system for products they export to the U.S. This alternative system is actually being used in a pilot program here in the United States. Under the pilot program - plants are allowed to accelerate processing line speeds and replace many USDA inspectors with meat industry employees. According to the letter from the Safe Food Coalition - recent Government Accountability Office and Office of Inspector General critiques of the pilot program make it clear USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service lacks substantial information on which to determine whether the pilot program improves food safety. Considering the problems with similar approaches in foreign countries - the letter states that the groups question whether these inspection models are sufficiently protecting public health. The coalition also asked USDA not to move forward with final regulations for poultry plants. But USDA says the proposal to modernize the way poultry is inspected is all about making food safer - and their peer-reviewed risk assessment shows it would do just that if implemented broadly.
The Consumer Federation of America, Food and Water Watch and Center for Science in the Public Interest are among the eight food safety organizations that make up the Safe Food Coalition.