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Union chief cries foul on poultry inspection privatization

Apr. 23, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
By ANDY MEDICI   |   Comments
A plan to privatize poultry inspection would be detrimental to food safety, union argues.
A plan to privatize poultry inspection would be detrimental to food safety, union argues. (USDA)

A plan to privatize poultry inspection would increase the chances of contaminated meat entering the food supply, according to the head of the American Federation of Government Employees.

The plan would allow companies to privatize the inspection process and would speed up processing lines by 25 percent, while remaining Agriculture Department employees would be responsible for inspecting 175 birds a minute, according to union president J. David Cox in a blog post on the Huffington Post.

“Let's be clear: This is a filthy rule that will lead to filthy chicken on your dinner plate,” he wrote.

The Agriculture Department has said the move is part of a modernization effort to focus limited resources where they are needed most, saving the agency about $90 million over three years and lowering poultry production costs by $256.6 million a year.

But Cox said the increased processing times would mean more antibiotics in chicken to help prevent foodborne illness, and more worker injuries in processing plants.

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