BYCers' input on Poultry Slaughterhouse monitoring needed!

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by SpeckledHills, May 28, 2012.

  1. SpeckledHills

    SpeckledHills Songster

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    There are policies being considered by the USDA affecting meat chickens & other poultry, about which I think BYCers' interest in & knowledge of poultry could allow them to contribute valuable input. I wanted to put a reference to this issue in the Meat Birds section, but a main thread about it is at:

    MAY 29 deadline to tell USDA to keep monitoring poultry slaughterhouses--PLEASE SIGN ONLINE!

    We can submit our comments to the USDA online until May 29, & sign a petition until June 1.
    Please help spread the word!
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2012
  2. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Crowing

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    On-line petitions have no value whatsoever. They aren't legal, signatures can't be verified, people can pad the results by voting multiple times.

    The politicians in charge of whatever law this is won't even bother to look at the petition.

    As far as I can tell, on-line petitions are just to gather your personal information so you can be added to spam mailing lists.

    If you want your legislator to know how you feel, you must write a letter. Yes, on paper, with a stamp and send it through the mail. You will have to include your return address and your signature and contact information.
     
  3. Buster52

    Buster52 Songster

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    Actually, the proposed rules look pretty good to me. Defective birds are pulled by employees before they get to the inspector.

    Having a hard time seeing the down side.

    And I don't see they do anything to affect the birds while still alive, one way or another.
     
  4. SpeckledHills

    SpeckledHills Songster

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    The petition site I linked to is a new one actually created by the Obama administration to facilitate greater communication between the government & the governed. The site is monitored by White House staff. Petitions that get enough signatures on this site get turned in for review, & those that don't get ignored.

    I just found the petition 2 days ago & since have been doing everything I can to help. Unless many people pull together over the next 4 days, this petition will very sadly get ignored. Only 16,319 people have signed since May 2, and 8,681 more are needed within the next 4 days. Larger #s of signatures have been gathered in fewer days before though; if people will email friends, post on Facebook, etc., we may be able to get this issue looked at.

    The website also provides a page to send in individual comments directly to the White House, & there is also info on how to phone in (Call 202-456-1111).

    Anyone who is concerned about this issue--please use any of these resouces to help.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2012
  5. SpeckledHills

    SpeckledHills Songster

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    Slaughterhouses pay very low wages, so often people that hire are ones who have little education. A high percentage are early or illegal immigrants, and speak little or no English, so may have extra difficulty understanding instructions.
    USDA instructors go through specialized training and must pass standardized tests on the specific types of animals they are inspecting. As I understand it (though I may be wrong), the "Modernization" rule would allow slaughterhouses to just give as little or much training as they chose.
    There are many health problems chickens can have & detecting some may require noticing somewhat complex signs in various organs--I would think this is not always straightforward.
    Less-trained employee inspectors may miss identifying health issues that would be spotted by better-trained USDA inspectors.
    I'm hearing increased line speeds and reduction in number of USDA inspectors would have birds passing the few remaining USDA inspectors at a rate of 3 birds per second—precious little time to catch anything employee inspectors miss.

    Plant employees are under direction of slaughterhouse managers. Motivated for higher profits, these managers may strongly pressure employee inspectors to pass over "borderline" issues or to just trim off contamination or health defects without following comprehensive sanitation guidelines.
    Unlike employees, USDA inspectors are not under the authority of plant managers so don't have profit motives pressuring their decisions (though I have heard that sometimes they are pressured to not "make waves"). It seems independently employed inspectors would more strongly enforce proper standards.
    - - - - - - -
    I just found out my link to USDA inspector training materials wasn't working--Sorry! On pages 4 and 5 it lists things USDA inspectors monitor that affect poultry welfare. Here's a better link: http://search.usda.gov/search?q=cac...e=UTF-8&num=10&site=FSIS&proxystylesheet=FSIS
    It appears their monitoring helps maintain standards that help with some humane treatment issues, though I don't know the exact degree in which it makes a difference.

    It especially seems that having "outside eyes" in a place helps companies toe the line & behave more responsibly than if no one but themselves sees what goes on. Poultry slaughterhouses seem to be kept very isolated from visitors or media, so who else can help preserve a sense of accountability if USDA inspectors are pulled out of most areas??

    Assigning companies to self-monitoring of health- and welfare-critical issues in tension with company profits raises a giant red flag for me, just by itself (though profitability does align with good healthy & humane practices in some decisions).

    In evaluating whether the changes are wise, I do not know all the specific details of the proposed rule, but there are elements that seem to have potential for real concerns. Please, everyone who also feels concern, send in comments to the USDA and White House.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2012
  6. Buster52

    Buster52 Songster

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    There's the red herring. The employees sort and cull undesirables, but all remaining birds still have to go through the inspector. That way, the inspector can focus on what is left.

    Don't get me wrong. I would just as soon they shut down the big poultry houses tomorrow and force it all out to small and medium growers who process their birds themselves. That's more sustainable and humane. But these new rules aren't going to do anything but make the current food system just a little safer.

    Before folks sign the petition, they should go in and read the rules for themselves, to decide for themselves what they say and don't say.
     
  7. I think every company knows the quickest way to get their plants shut down would be to let sick birds in to the food supply. There's no profit when you are being sued by sick people. They have a stronger reason to make sure the product is safe then a outside inspector.


    [​IMG]
     
  8. SpeckledHills

    SpeckledHills Songster

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    That may help provide enough motivation to help maintain safe levels in some plants, if they systemize things enough. Though plants can use roundabout ways to pass bacterial tests while breaking rules, if inadequately monitored. For instance, they can put too-strong of chlorine in the "chiller" vat to try to offset contamination (ie. poop) not being adequately managed during processing (which is something USDA inspectors normally have an eye out for). Though the proposed plan includes periodic checks of such things as chlorine levels, the visual checks are vastly reduced.

    Could such shifts balance out alright?? My own thought--having read some of the detailed proposals--is No. I think some of the proposed changes sound excellent & beneficial. But things such as 3-birds-per-second line speeds--No. And bodies and innards being untraceably separated from each other prior to a less-regulated inspection makes me nervous. But maybe there are sufficient balancing measures for safety???

    Another element to be aware of is that there are defects in poultry meat that do not actually cause human sicknesses, but are supposed to require discarding or special treatment. Processors can be lax in handling some of these & the meat can still pass bacterial tests, I would think. It seems the new system, with less visual observation by USDA inspectors, would potentially allow more of these defects slip by. These types of errors don't worry me a lot, since I think they mostly affect visual appeal & palatability--but obviously they are important to many or the standards about them wouldn't exist.
     
  9. bigredfeather

    bigredfeather Songster

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    That would be a dream come true for this guy. A little safer isn't good enough to me. I'll stick to raising and processing my own, thank you very much.
     
  10. The defects that don't cause sickness are quality issues and the market will put those that have bad quality out of business. It was important to some to have a person walk in front of every cars with a flag or light at one time that doesn't mean it's a good idea now.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2012

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