Statement of Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter
Washington, D.C.—“Yesterday, Food & Water Watch received word from USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) that the agency has denied our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for information on which poultry slaughter plants intend to adopt the New Poultry Inspection System in their establishments.
“We made this request at the suggestion of the Department of Justice after one of its attorneys remarked in a hearing on our lawsuit to block the implementation of the New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS) that consumers could find out through FOIA which establishments were using this controversial self-inspection program. The denial of our FOIA request further underscores the fact that the NPIS inspection system is a complete farce.
“The New Poultry Inspection System would turn over key food safety inspection functions to poultry companies. USDA inspectors would have limited oversight over critical food safety inspection functions. These rules essentially privatize poultry inspection and pave the way for others in the meat industry to police themselves, a move that would undermine food safety.
“Consumers will have good reason not trust the safety of products coming from plants using the NPIS system because company employees, rather than USDA inspectors, would perform key inspection tasks. These concerned consumers will have very little way of knowing which products came from these plants if the USDA does not disclose this information. In court, the government’s attorney suggested that these consumers could use FOIA to find out which establishments used NPIS. So why is USDA denying such a request?
“The NPIS self-inspection system will harm consumers and reverse 100 years of effective government regulation of the meat industry. Denying the public any information about which products will come from this system adds insult to injury.”
Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, (202) 683-4905, kfried(at)fwwatch(dot)org.