More than 3500 sign petition asking USDA to reject poultry inspection rule

 

Secretary Tom Vilsack

United States Department of Agriculture

Room 200, Jamie L. Whitten Building

12th Street and Jefferson Drive, S.W.

Washington, DC 20250

December 3, 2012

 

Dear Secretary Vilsack,

 

The Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention (CFI), working with TakePart (the social action arm of Participant Media), today presents you with more than 3,500 signatures calling on USDA to reject the proposed rule on poultry slaughter inspection.

 

CFI and TakePart hosted this petition for three weeks in November 2012. The petition asks you to reject the current poultry slaughter inspection proposal and develop a new one that has provisions explicitly designed to reduce illness, injury, and death from foodborne pathogens. A list of petition signers is attached, and a copy of the petition can be found at: http://www.takepart.com/actions/tell-usda-and-omb-no-foodborne-illness-thanksgiving-dinner.

 

These 3,548 people are concerned, as we are, that the proposed rule, which allows line speeds of up to 170 birds per minute and removes inspectors from the line and, in some cases, the establishment, does not adequately protect the public’s health. Given the United States’ inability to reduce the incidence of Salmonella over the past ten years, it is clearly time to address the issues related to poultry inspection and the high impact that Salmonella and Campylobacter have on public health. Unfortunately, we do not believe this rule will do that.

 

The proposed rule is rooted in a risk assessment that did not take into account two key risk management changes, namely increased line speeds and the removal of some inspection resources from establishments. Even without including these significant risk management changes, the risk assessment found no increased risk of illness. We are concerned that adding these two key risk management changes will tip the scales and result in an increased risk of illness. At best, the current proposal maintains the status quo. But we think we can do better than that and find ways to improve poultry slaughter inspection that decreases the risk of illness and truly provides a net public health benefit.

 

We ask that you stop this rule in its tracks. Please do not forward it to OMB. Instead, lets work together to reform the poultry inspection system to reduce the incidence of foodborne illness and improve public health.

 

Thank you for your time. We look forward to hearing from you and to working with you to improve the food safety system for American families.

 

Sincerely,

 

Barbara Kowalcyk

CFI CEO and Director of Research

 

Patricia Buck

CFI Director of Outreach & Education

 

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Barbara Kowalcyk and Pat Buck founded CFI in 2006 to advocate for science-based solutions to the food safety challenges facing the world. Their story was featured in the 2009 Academy Award nominated documentary, Food, Inc.

 

Contact: Laura Trivers (301) 512-4442

press@foodborneillness.org

 

 

THE CENTER FOR FOODBORNE ILLNESS RESEARCH & PREVENTION  |  cfi@foodborneillness.org