USDA Report: Slaughter Plants Routinely Violate Regulations, Lax Enforcement

Written by Katie Vann

cow-slaughter

No matter how you slice it, meat produced in the US may come complete with grease smears and even animal feces. That’s based on information from the the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), an agency that has not only been aware of food safety and animal welfare violations inside slaughterhouses, but its agents have apparently done relatively nothing to combat them.

In a new — and damning — report released by the USDA’s own Office of the Inspector General, it’s revealed that in just four years, more than 44,000 violations were reported in 616 slaughterhouses. Yet in only 28 cases was the slaughterhouse suspended–and for only a brief time.

Just what type of violations are we talking about? The Huffington Post highlights several examples, including cruel and improper slaughtering of pigs as well as “fecal matter and running abscesses on carcasses.” Another alarming issue raised in the report is that about one-third of inspectors admitted they don’t issue a noncompliance report if they witness a conscious animal on the bleed rail (which legally requires suspension).

As a result of this gross lack of enforcement and failure to punish repeat offenders, the USDA report make it clear that “plants have repeatedly violated the same regulations with little or no consequence.”

The table below is from the USDA report. It shows the number of noncompliance records issued (when an inspector cites a violation) as well as the number of actions taken by inspectors in response to the noncompliance records. Regulatory control action refers to a direct action that was taken such as stopping the production line or pulling the animal carcass out of processing.

usda-table
What’s more, even when inspectors knew they were being watched by individuals from the Office of the Inspector General for this report, they still repeatedly made mistakes with their inspections–mistakes such as forgetting to mark feces-contaminated body parts as they moved through the line. Some inspectors cited that they were “too distracted” by their reviewers to do their job correctly. Can you imagine what happens inside the facilities when they know they are NOT being watched?

This report as well as our own undercover investigations validates the conclusion that our food inspection system is broken, and it’s harming public health and causing egregious animal suffering.

How can you make a difference? By choosing to leave all animals off your plate — it’s better for you and it’s better for animals!  Visit TryVeg.com to find out more.