Even though studies show that at least two-thirds of the chicken sold in this country carry bacteria, President Obama's budget is calling for an unbelievably drastic reduction in USDA poultry inspectors. He apparently thinks that the Wall Street method of self-regulation, which has obviously worked out just fine for defrauded homeowners and looted pension plans, will work just as well for factory farms. He apparently thinks that thousands or millions of new cases of salmonella a year are the price we must pay in order to have a thriving free market. He apparently has learned no lessons from the hundreds of cases of fungal meningitis caused by that self-regulating compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts.
It's the usual blatant pro-corporate rationale behind most of this administration's deregulatory actions. Firing federal poultry inspectors who protect the public health would actually save only a paltry amount of taxpayer money. But firing poultry inspectors who protect the public health will greatly enhance the bank accounts of the factory farms. Their profits will bloat even faster than a salmonella-infested oven stuffer roaster. The fox-guarding-the-henhouse way of doing business will be taken to a whole new literal level.
Under current procedures, teams of USDA inspectors working at America's poultry plants are now able to examine about 35 chickens a minute as they come flying down the assembly lines. Under Obama's proposal, the reduction in staff would result in a lone token inspector having to examine 175 birds in the same time frame -- a physical impossibility. As a result, the rate of production could potentially increase by five-fold.
Tony Corbo, of the public policy group Food and Water Watch, notes that a pilot program replacing government Agriculture inspectors with self-policing industry employees has already been proven dangerous. Salmonella cases actually increased, and even carcasses bearing obvious fecal contamination were being missed. In an interview with the Real News Network, Corbo said the Obama Administration is well aware of these dire statistics, but is playing fast and loose with the public health anyway:
I mean, when the administration proposed their regulation, they had a report doing an evaluation of these pilot plants. And it showed the last two years of data that they collected, that the pilot plants had actually higher salmonella rates than the conventionally inspected plants. And lo and behold, just this past month--USDA does a monthly report on the testing that the government does in these plants to test to see if the salmonella rates are either high or low, and two of the pilot plants showed up as failing the salmonella test.
So here's the ultimate irony. The administration keeps on going around and saying that this new model, this new inspection model is going to be able to reduce salmonella, and yet all of the evidence points the other way.And just as an aside: the Office of Management and Budget, largely responsible for the relentless deregulation frenzy in the Obama Administration, will now be headed by Walmart executive Sylvia Mathews Burwell. Walmart sells a whole lot of chicken. Just sayin'.
And here we thought Chained CPI represented the ultimate in cruelty. Not only will we be forced to eat cat food, we'll be forced to eat tainted Walmart cat food.