USDA plans to roll out inspection program that has failed to catch contaminated meat

U.S. -

A pilot program that is intended to be rolled out nationwide, has repeatedly failed to catch contaminated pork, according to a report by The Washington Post.

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Copyright 2014 Reuters
Copyright 2014 Reuters

The pilot program, called Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point-based Inspection Models Project (HIMP), was launched in 1997 and was intended to help speed up production at hog plants, save the government money, and improve food safety. The USDA declined to comment on the report.

HIMP allows the plants to reduce the number of inspectors by half and replace government inspectors with private inspectors hired by the meat industry.

While only 5 hog plants are part of HIMP, 3 of the plants have some of worst records for contamination in the nation. In some instances, government inspectors have caught contaminated meat in the late stages of processing before it ships.

"There is a lot of controversy surrounding this program… We should not be putting it out there, saying it is okay for other countries to use, when it has so many flaws and when contaminated meat is coming in." Patricia Buck, USDA's National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection

A similar pilot program exists for poultry. According to the report, one inspector who spoke on a condition of anonymity said "we are no longer in charge of safety" as inspectors get yelled at by managers if they try to slow down processing lines.

Similar programs are already in place for meat that the U.S. imports from Canada and Australia. Some of the meat has been stopped at ports as food has been found to be contaminated with fecal matter and partly digested food. Canada's government blames faster processing lines for the contamination.

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