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Upton Sinclair Rolls Over In Grave, Is 'USDA Prime' Under New Trump Meat Rules
It's a Jungle out there.
New meat inspection rules being rolled out by the Trump administration will get Big Government out of your food, leaving safety inspections in the maybe-washed hands of line employees at giant pork producers instead of US Department of Agriculture inspectors, according to a vegetarianism-inducing report by NBC News. The new rules will apply to factories producing roughly 90 percent of the pork consumed in America, and then later will be applied to beef plants, too. Your meals won't be any cheaper, probably, but the producers can goose their profits, possibly by adding actual geese while nobody's looking.
"The consumer's being duped," Food Safety and Inspection Service inspector Jill Mauer told NBC News. "They believe that it actually is getting federally inspected when there's no one there to even watch or do anything about anything."
"It's so hard to go to work without feeling physically sick watching this just happen, unfolding in front of you," inspector Anthony Vallone said. "Especially since you took the oath to protect the American people."
The two rogue meat heads have filed official whistleblower complaints with the Office of Special Counsel, and decided to go public through NBC News. Probably because they're just lazy government employees who hate private enterprise! NBC also spoke to several other inspectors for information on the pilot program that's about to be taken national. In case anyone needs to name their punk band, the new rules are called the "New Swine Inspection System."
Most pork plants now have as many as seven USDA inspectors working in them, right on the production line, looking closely at hog carcasses and making sure the meat is safe, at several points along the pig-disassembly line. (For a thoughtful look at the business -- at a beef plant, but we're all made of meat -- see Ted Conover's excellent 2013 piece "The Way of All Flesh," for which the author went sort-of undercover and became a trained USDA inspector.)
The New Swine Singers plan will cut the number of inspectors per plant sharply, to just two or three, and they won't usually be directly inspecting the meat.
Instead, the plant's own employees will be checking and sorting the hog carcasses and letting the federal inspectors, called consumer safety inspectors, check their work from a distance. There is no required federal training for those employees.
And just for fun, to maximize value (and industrial accidents!) the rules will do away with federal regulations on how fast the line can move, meaning more carcasses being cut up per hour. Both the USDA and an industry flack told NBC News that was no big, because "USDA always has the authority to affect an establishment's line speed."
Uh huh. As the Conover piece emphasizes, keeping the line moving is paramount to profits, and any slowdown or stoppage is a big fucking deal, not something the producers are likely to sit still for if it happens too often. Expect that to get worse when the federal limits on line speed vanish altogether.
Expect fingers to occasionally go missing, too, though we'll assume most meat packers will make sure to account for severed digits before major cuts of pork are shrink-wrapped. No promises for the bits that go into more heavily processed products.
But the real concern, the inspectors say, is the prospect that unhealthy meat will get into the food supply.
"If this continues across the nation, when you open your package of meat, what you're gonna get for a pathogen is gonna be a mystery," Mauer said.
Potential defects, according to Mauer, include feces, sex organs, toenails, bladders and unwanted hair.
She and other inspectors claim plant employees with little experience or training are doing minimal checking and sorting in an effort to maintain line speeds and keep plant owners happy.
"They're doing the same job as we were doing in a traditional plant. And we're, you know, verifying them. You can't really see very much in that time. So there's a lot of contamination heading out the door," Vallone said.
Pish-tosh, says the North American Meat Institute, the lobbying group -- just be sure none of the pish gets on the table, OK? The tosh we can overlook. The flack noted that USDA inspectors will still be inspecting each animal "before harvest" and each carcass as it leaves the kill floor, so if semi-trained company workers do all the "inspections" throughout the rest of the process, with USDA inspectors glancing their way now and then, everything's fine.
Also too, NBC reached out to all five of the companies running pork plants in the pilot program. Four of 'em begged off, referring reporters to industry spokespeople. But one, Smithfield Foods, bravely stood behind the safety of its pig parts. Kiera Lombardo, Smithfield's "executive vice president of corporate affairs and compliance," issued a statement saying, among other things,
I am a mother of two young children and have been part of the Smithfield Foods Family for nearly twenty years. At our company, we produce safe and high-quality food for our consumers that we take great pride in also serving to our own families, mine included.
We are absolutely not at all thinking of the scene in Jaws where the mayor of Amity tells his wife and kids they damn well better get in the water on the 4th of July.
"Experts" say it only stands to reason that faster lines and fewer hands-on federal inspectors increase the risks, but hasn't America been kept from prosperity by worrywart "experts" too long already? LOOK WHAT THEY DID TO OUR DISHWASHERS THAT YOU HAVE TO FLUSH TEN TIMES!
But those troublemaking Deep State meat inspectors nonetheless stuck to their tired "food safety is a thing" narrative, warning the new rules are a disaster in the making:
I can't stand silent and watch this go across the nation with the potential of the American public getting contaminated food, adulterated food, and not what they think they're gonna get," Mauer said. "I care that my friends, my family, my loved ones, are gonna eat this product."
What a bunch of Nanny State whining. As of blogtime, we haven't seen Mike Cernovich or Jacob Wohl volunteering to eat an uninspected hog carcass while livestreaming on Periscope, to own the libs, but it's only a matter of time.
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