The Viva Vine: vol #3, no #5: November / December 1994
Fecal Fried Chicken: Same Old, Same Old on the Inspection Front: by Pamela Teisler-Rice

New government poultry inspection rules due to go into effect within the next 5 months will call for zero tolerances for fecal contamination of bird carcasses. The rules will represent the most significant changes in poultry inspection rules since 1957.

The new rules will require a standardized system of inspection which will uniformly employ exactly two inspectors at inspection points, rather than 3 or only 1. (Currently the number of inspectors at any one plant generally corresponds to the size of the poultry processing plant.) In addition, processors will be required to install equipment for mandatory use of chemical rinses to reduce bacteria. (Refer to Issue #13, The VivaVine, vol. 3, no. 3; May/June, 1994.)

Independent critics of the rules outside of the industry are concerned where the rules decrease the number of line inspectors from three to two, with any reduction considered ludicrous. With the new rules, the number of inspectors at half the plants in the country will be reduced. Critics warn that regardless of the zero tolerance for fecal matter rule, two inspectors is not enough to spot all fecal contamination (the source of salmonella bacteria.) Elaine Dodge, a lawyer with the Government Accountability Project, a whistleblowers' group in Washington, said, "you're reducing inspectors by a third, while these chickens are flying by at 91 per minute. It's just crazy."

Ed. Note: The above story was taken mostly from a Bloomberg wire, and from the Oct., '94 issue of Vegetarian Times. There was no explanation anywhere in the 4-page Bloomberg wire story as to the source of fecal contamination in poultry processing, that is, why, as they mention, that salmonella contamination affects about 25% of the birds. As VivaVine readers know, the salmonella epidemic is the result of intense confinement food birds are forced to exist in today. The wire story also did not make note of the impact of production line degutting, another fertile ground for the spread of bacteria. The focus of the Bloomberg story was the economic impact that the rules will have on the poultry industry. It's not likely that anyone asked any of the 7.1 billion chickens, turkeys and ducks what they thought about the new rules.

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