The USDA will no longer be doing inspections in the “pork” industry. As we previously reported this past spring the Trump administration worked to strip away federal inspections just as it allowed back in September of 2018 in the “poultry” industry, the aviation industry (like what happened with the Boeing 737), and will soon allow in the “beef” industry too.
The new “Swine Slaughter Inspection System (NSIS) allows slaughterhouses to self inspect. This replaces the previously regulated USDA inspections that were regulated by The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
This is being done under the guise of “modernizing swine slaughter inspection” but in reality that statement was released by the USDA to soften the blow of a change they had no say in.
Now there will no longer be a national standard across all slaughterhouse operations and they will be allowed to do what suits “their specific operations”.
The new legislations will according to the USDA:
“Remove unnecessary regulatory obstacles to industry innovation by revoking maximum line speeds and allowing establishments flexibility to reconfigure evisceration lines.”
The Federal Meat Inspection Act of 1906 was put into place after the uproar of Upton Sinclair’s ground breaking novel “The Jungle” showed the horrors of a fast paced meat packing plant. Many incidents are detailed including multiple horrific injuries occurring to workers on a daily basis. A man falls into an open meat grinder in Sinclair’s real life accounting of these horrors and we are heading back in that direction with legislation signed by the Trump administration dissolving protection put into place over 100 years ago.
Worker safety, consumer safety, and animal welfare will all be affected drastically as we begin to see faster and faster line speeds in the pursuit of corporate profit. Contamination especially from “Superbugs” resistant to antibiotics are far more likely to get through. With a recent study showing that over 50% of the “pork” at Walmart tested positive for these “Superbugs” we are in for an outbreak.
In this new legislation the companies will hire their own inspectors but there is no special training for this position legally required in the wording of the new law.
It’s clear that this new FSIS legislation is putting corporate profit over public health, worker safety and animal welfare. A 2013 audit by the Office of Inspector General showed:
“A higher potential for food safety risks.”
I want to end this article with an Upton Sinclair quote because it’s fitting but also he has always been one of my inspirations in being a journalist and writer.
“It was all so very businesslike that one watched it fascinated. It was pork-making by machinery, pork-making by applied mathematics. And yet somehow the most matter-of-fact person could not help thinking of the hogs; they were so innocent, they came so very trustingly; and they were so very human in their protests – and so perfectly within their rights! They had done nothing to deserve it; and it was adding insult to injury, as the thing was done here, swinging them up in this cold-blooded, impersonal way, without pretence at apology, without the homage of a tear.”
― Upton Sinclair