Washington, D.C. – In a letter today, Food & Water Watch pushed USDA for answers about looming pay cuts and staffing reductions that will come as part of a newly announced “reclassification” of Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) meat and poultry inspectors.
Food & Water Watch has been tracking chronic shortages in meat inspection staffing for over a decade. The shortages impact the ability of the agency to place adequate numbers of inspectors in plants while they are operating. It also threatens the rights of FSIS inspectors and public health.
In response, Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch said:
“It’s time for some answers from the USDA about the persistent and growing shortages in the ranks of USDA meat and poultry inspectors. Today we’re asking the USDA to explain the reclassification of hundreds of inspectors to lower job grades. Will these vital staffers, who perform critical inspection responsibilities, face debilitating salary cuts? How does the USDA plan to address severe shortages with inspection personnel?
“USDA inspectors stand between our dinner tables and diseased, unsanitary meat, poultry, egg and catfish products. Staffing shortages and schemes to lower the pay of inspectors endanger food safety and public health.
“The USDA has been dragging its feet when it comes to meaningfully addressing staffing shortages. USDA inspectors deserve fair wages, a safe workplace, and appropriate staffing numbers. USDA owes it to its inspectors and the American public to deal with food safety staffing issues more effectively and fairly.”
Click here to read the full letter.