USDA not protecting nation's meat consumers

newsroom@islandpacket.comFebruary 26, 2014 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is still expanding the list of retailers carrying meat unfit for human consumption. So far, it includes Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and 970 locations in California alone. About 8.7 million pounds were shipped in 2013 by Rancho Feeding Corp. of Petaluma, Calif.

The recall comes in the wake of the USDA's new "inspection" program that allows the meat industry to increase speed of processing lines and replace federal inspectors with plant employees. According to the USDA inspector general, this has resulted in partial failure to remove fecal matter, undigested food, and other contaminants that may contain deadly E. coli and listeria bacteria.

Traditionally, the USDA has catered more to the interests and profitability of the meat industry than the health and safety of American consumers. Consumer interests come into play only when large numbers of us get sick. Having USDA protect consumers is like asking the fox to guard the hen house.

The Obama administration should reallocate responsibility for all food safety to the Food and Drug Administration. In the meantime, each of us can assume responsibility for our own safety by switching to the rich variety of soy-based meat products offered by our favorite supermarkets.

Blaise Tourneau

Bluffton

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