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Just another reason to raise your own
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Donna    Posted 01-24-2002 at 19:57:01       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I got this in my email and thought it should be passed on, boy oh boy what a mess!!

Ventura County Star

USDA experiment puts contaminated poultry in markets

By Lance Gay, Scripps Howard News Service

WASHINGTON -- Every chicken-processing plant participating in an experimental Agriculture Department inspection program was unable to keep fecal contamination out of poultry sent off to supermarket, and almost half of the plants produced poultry that was more contaminated than using traditional inspection methods, government investigators say.

Nevertheless, the Agriculture Department announced this week it is expanding the pilot project allowing increased industry self-inspection to all turkey- and chicken-processing plants in the country.

In an 86-page report released Wednesday, the General Accounting Office said a pilot poultry inspection project introduced at 11 plants in 1997 failed to produce meat that has less fecal contamination, or lower levels of harmful pathogens, than a traditional inspection regime of requiring federal inspectors to inspect each carcass. The GAO is a congressional unit that audits federal programs.

The Agriculture Department insisted the new program would provide a level of quality in meat "equal to or better than" traditional methods of inspection that required federal inspectors to look at each carcass as it comes off the processing line. The experimental program allows producers to inspect their own product, and to speed up processing lines, producing more chickens each shift.

But using the department's own data on results from the 11 pilot plants compiled in 1999 and 2000, GAO
investigators found:

The result for levels of salmonella in processed chickens was worse at five of the 11 plants than it was under standards set for traditional inspection systems.

None of the plants was able to meet the government standard of having no fecal contamination in the meat heading for supermarket shelves. Pathogens like E. coli are carried in fecal material.

None of the plants was able to meet all the performance standards set out under government guidelines.

There was no improvement in standards when the program was altered in June 2000 to allow the industry to install microbial baths and other equipment online to reduce pathogen levels.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said the report shows that the pilot project "is critically flawed" and urged the Agriculture Department to convene a commission to come up with an alternative inspection regime.

"We need to fix it before going any further down the road of moving inspectors off the inspection lines," Harkin said.

He said the GAO study clearly shows the idea of turning the policing of meat inspection on production lines over to the industry does not work, and "is a recipe for a food-safety disaster." Harkin and Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., asked for the GAO report after Scripps Howard News Service reported on government statistics showing contaminated chickens were distributed to consumers under the experimental program.

Carol Tucker Foreman, head of food policy at the Consumer Federation of America, said the GAO findings prompted her organization to declare it will no longer support the pilot project.

"The pilot project should be dumped in the garbage along with the dirty chickens it produces," said Foreman, a former assistant secretary of agriculture. "Consumers do not want poop on their poultry, and GAO says that's what you get."

Foreman said her organization was waiting to see if the experimental system might reduce the estimated 76 million cases of food-borne illnesses a year in the United States, but has now concluded it will not.

Felicia Nestor, a food-safety project director with the Washington-based Government Accountability Project, which has been critical of the experimental project, said the GAO findings show that quality control at the plants has been declining over time, instead of getting better.

"The fecal findings at these plants is completely unacceptable," she said.

Delmer Jones, president of the National Joint Council of Food Inspection Locals, the union that represents
government meat inspectors, said the report only details shortcomings in industry self-inspection that the union has been exposing.

Jones said he doesn't believe the GAO's findings will produce any changes. "The only thing that is going to get their attention is if there's an outbreak of sickness."

The Agriculture Department says it is considering changes to the experimental project, but intends to expand it nationwide to all poultry and pork production plants on a voluntary basis.

Elsa Murano, the department's undersecretary for food safety, told the National Turkey Federation this week that the agency is making some changes to the program the GAO recommended, including requiring formal training for industry-hired inspectors on processing lines and stricter performance standards.

"Based on comments received to date from all interested parties, including most recently a report by the General Accounting Office we believe that additional changes are warranted to strengthen the program," Murano said.

-- Lance Gay's e-mail address is gayl@shns.com.


IHank    Posted 01-26-2002 at 14:58:55       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Donna and All- It looks like 'yall are catching on to the reason for washing raw stuff and cooking it to 180 degrees. It's that half raw stuff in the middle that transmits the harmful stuff and makes people sick. Another trick I use with chicken is to skin it while washing it.

Yes, the problem of bacterial contamination is big in the butchering process. But, out on the farm processing is no guarantee the produce will be free of stuff that makes people sick.

Wash your raw food in a mild hydrogen peroxide solution, cook properly, and you'll save lots of money on toilet paper! No grin here, IHank


KY Plowgirl    Posted 01-26-2002 at 12:32:30       [Reply]  [Send Email]
This one really makes me glad we are raising our own chickens for meat and eggs. Glad we have a summer garden too!


hay    Posted 01-25-2002 at 06:29:18       [Reply]  [No Email]
we live in a time of blinding speed production. the more you can produce and the faster you can ship it out the more money you make. someone along the way must have forgot to take safety into consideration. oh well, if the product is bad/spoiled/damaged, the the company will just recall it and cherrfully refund your money. i seem to remember a time (long ago) that we did not have recalls. the products were made and tested BEFORE they were shipped out and sold. however i tried the "raise your own" and found out very quickly that it only cost me two to three times as much in money and labor as i could buy from the store. seems like there is no ideal situation. we, as the consumers, need to demand that our government make the inspection the top priority. after all it is our safety we are dealing with here. write your congressman/legislator/senator and let them know how you feel about this. if enough people show interest in this, then maybe something will be done. if we keep silent on this then the inspection will just get more lax than ever.


geo in MI    Posted 01-24-2002 at 20:44:31       [Reply]  [No Email]
Well, just like the bumper sticker says, "_ _ _ _ happens." Yes, in 1997, the USDA went to a program that sort of pulled the inspectors off the lines, and set up "process standards", that, if followed would ensure that everything would be hunky-dorey. Take at a look at the USDA website info to see how it reads. We all remember the Sara Lee scandal here in Michigan where processed meat products and hamburger slipped out the door laden with e. Coli and lysteria in the packages............. Batch processing standards call for certain combinations of oven line speed and temperature--for a hypothetical example, say, hot dogs can go through at 20 minutes at 350 degrees, OR, ten minutes at 450 degrees, to kill off the bugs. Each meat product, has, in effect, a set of combinations all perfectly "valid" depending on the rate of flow for that day. The inspector probably now carries a clipboard and checks documentation records kept by the company to verify that the charts and rules were followed----rather than physically inspecting or testing.
Process engineering was the buzzword of most industries--Ford, GM, etc. a few years back If you get the process correct and repeatable, you don't have to waste money inspecting each piece at the end of the line........... Good in theory, if everybody is honest, if everybody cares, if the "process" is really, really correct and can cover all the variables. Trouble is, the boss says, "We gotta get that truck loaded before lunch time, I don't care what it takes......" And someone speeds up the line, then buys the inspector a cup of coffee.............


Donna    Posted 01-24-2002 at 21:03:04       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Been there done that, production makes the boss look good reguardless. I have seen a lot going on, I have worked 32 years most of it in production and what slides out the door and on to the trucks sould not have gone, but the production was what was important. I worked in insurance sales, and decetpion sales,{production} God I hated it. I did not last long, So I went into raising my registered goats, and great pyrenees dogs and a few other oddities, and love it, I let the creators do the production work, hehehehehehe
Donna


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