THE DEVOLUTION OF MEAT INSPECTION. The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is reporting that the farm bill passed by the House (H.R. 2419) last July will greatly reduce federal meat inspection, instead referring inspections of the meat processed by most plants to the purview of the states. AFGE represents federal meat inspectors. (I worked for the union from 2001-2005.) The offending provisions were added "at the last moment and without the benefit of public hearings," according to AFGE Legislative Director Beth Moten. The union is joined in its opposition to the meat inspection provisions by the Consumer Federation of America, the National Consumers League, the Government Accountability Project and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW).
From AFGE's release:
The Farm Bill [if passed as is by the Senate] would also remove the current ban on shipping state-inspected meat to other states....A report issued in September of last year [by the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Agriculutre] said that Mississippi allowed a number of meat processing plants to continue operating despite finding various safety issues, including cutting boards heavily contaminated with meat residues from previous days’ operations, soot-like material on swine carcasses in coolers, and the lack of monitoring of cooking temperatures that could potentially expose consumers to bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses.
--Adele M. Stan