You ever notice those Chick-fil-A ads and billboards where the cows are telling you that you haven't had enough chicken in your diet lately and why eat a cow when you can get some juicy breast meat in your mouth?
Yeah, you may want to reconsider that since the USDA is about to let the industry inspect itself...
Well then. I guess this seems like a brilliant idea. Because self-regulating worked so well for the financial industry...
Chicken is the top-selling meat in the United States. The average American eats 84 pounds a year, more chicken than beef or pork. Sorry red meat, chicken is what's for dinner. And now the USDA is proposing a fundamental change in the way that poultry makes it to the American dinner table.
As early as next week, the government will end debate on a cost-cutting, modernization proposal it hopes to fully implement by the end of the year. A plan that is setting off alarm bells among food science watchdogs because it turns over most of the chicken inspection duties to the companies that produce the birds for sale.
The USDA hopes to save $85 million over three years by laying off 1,000 government inspectors and turning over their duties to company monitors who will staff the poultry processing lines in plants across the country.
The poultry companies expect to save more than $250 million a year because they, in turn will be allowed to speed up the processing lines to a dizzying 175 birds per minute with one USDA inspector at the end of the line. Currently, traditional poultry lines move at a maximum of 90 birds per minute, with up to three USDA inspectors on line.
Whistleblower inspectors opposed to the new USDA rule say the companies cannot be trusted to watch over themselves. They contend that companies routinely pressure their employees not to stop the line or slow it down, making thorough inspection for contaminants, tumors and evidence of disease nearly impossible. "At that speed, it's all a blur," one current inspector tells ABC News.
According to OMB Watch, a government accountability newsletter, cutbacks at the USDA have coincided with a significant rise in salmonella outbreaks. The group says 2010 was a record year for salmonella infection and 2011 saw 103 poultry, egg and meat recalls because of disease-causing bacteria, the most in nearly 10 years.
The USDA, which has been running a pilot program of the changes in 20 US poultry plants, says the new system is not about cost-cutting, but about bringing food safety up to date. In background briefings, the agency will not answer on the record questions posed by ABC News, USDA says it plans on increasing the number of scientific tests to look for microbiotic disease invisible to human eye inspectors. But the agency has not been able to furnish data that shows an increase in lab testing during the 12 year pilot program.
Watchdog groups insist a combination of increased testing and government inspection is needed to lower salmonella and other disease outbreaks from chicken. The National Chicken Council says on its website that while "plant employees would have an expanded role in inspecting carcasses," USDA inspectors will still be in the plant. And "we are confident that modernizing the poultry inspection system will enable us to build on our success in providing delicious, safe and wholesome food to our customers."
Well, I guess it did for everyone who was a banker. Not so much anyone else. I for one welcome the deregulation of our murder factory owning agribusiness overlords....
It's not like it wasn't a record year for infections and recalls due to bad meat. So I guess the only thing to do in response is to eliminate regulation, so that the invisible hand of the free market can solve this problem for us!
What they don't tell you is that the hand of the free market is invisible because it's a ghost. It die of salmonella. But hey, as long as you cook it thoroughly it should be fine. Cause really, antibiotics don't work on salmonella.
From what I've seen of the food industry, I didn't think it was actually possible for the conditions of animals to get any worse, but welp, here we are. Most of the chicken your average American eat is mostly disease filled at this point. I can't imagine if they can cut cost by not even having any semblance of humane conditions.
If you don't get where I stand on this, it's simple. This is a terrible fucking idea and is going to lead to a lot more undocumented laborers getting even more inhumane conditions, and similarly, the chickens are going to be basically in a giant torture chambers even worse than the ones they're currently in. This is going to be bad for everyone's health, the environment and exploitation.
Even though the current conditions are atrocious, the USDA inspection basically made sure that a lot of really fucked up shit that goes on in the factories didn't somehow end up in large quantities of your food. Without these people there, it's basically a free for all for the lines to shove whatever hunk of feathers and meat they can find into the processing grinder for ground meat and ship it out to happy American consumers.
I suppose this just means that it's time to go with homegrown chickens as your option. And even if you can't or won't raise your own chickens to eat, buying from a smaller operation like a local farmer will be safer than mass-produced poultry.
But what happens when you eventually.. and I mean that really, eventually get salmonella. Unless you're the elderly, the young, the immunosuppressed or otherwise very sick, they don't treat you with antibiotics. Why is that? Well, for many reasons;
(1) your gut flora provides you with something called "colonization resistance" which basically means that even if you eat salmonella-tainted meat, it's quite likely you won't get an infection at all, because your gut flora stop it from growing in your gutCurrently butchers get chainmail gloves and armored aprons and they still manage to slice themselves up all the time. You have to wonder what sort of job site protection undocumented meat-packers are getting. Probably gloves, but not to protect themselves. It's only so that white people can rest assured that no illegals have technically had their grubby hands all on their food.
(2) completely independent of that, your gut flora also helps you clear the infection faster. treatment with antibiotics is actually known to lengthen the duration of a salmonella infection because killing your gut flora is so bad for you, even if you're also killing almost all of the salmonella
(3) this also leads to what's termed "supershedder" outcomes, or asymptomatic excreters. briefly, when you treat someone with salmonella with antibiotics, after they get better they still are infected with salmonella at low levels and therefore can spread it to others. it's thought that 80% of disease comes from the 20% of the infected population that become supershedders
(4) a whole bunch of salmonella are antibiotic resistant and therefore treatment with antibiotics will actually do nothing good at all
(5) salmonella is inherently resistant to a bunch of antibiotics in multiple ways
(6) it's thought that all the targets for traditional antibiotics have already been found for salmonella, by which i mean unless there's a paradigmatic shift in the way science looks for antibiotics, it's highly unlikely that new antibiotics are going to be found
(7) this also is the case despite salmonella being probably the best understood bacterial infection, being incredibly well-characterized in terms of both basic and applied science'
(8) it's also ridiculously underfunded
(9) seriously it's so well understood that scientists have made multiple attempts to re-engineer it as a cancer treatment, or as a malaria treatment, or as a new way of formulating a vaccine