As if we have not seen enough outbreaks of food-borne illnesses and other agricultural disasters over the past couple years, the Trump regime is preparing to hand the responsibility for inspecting pork to the pork industry.
The Washington Post reports that the federal government will cut 40 percent of its inspectors and replace them with employees who work for the same companies they'll be inspecting.
Under the proposed new inspection system, the responsibility for identifying diseased and contaminated pork would be shared with plant employees, whose training would be at the discretion of plant owners. There would be no limits on slaughter-line speeds.
Pat Basu, the chief veterinarian with the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service from 2016 to 2018, refused to sign off on the new pork system because of concerns about safety for both consumers and livestock. The USDA sent the proposed regulations to the Federal Register about a week after Basu left, and they were published less than a month later, according to records and interviews.
“Look at the FAA. It took a year or so before the [Boeing] crashes happened,” Basu said. “This could pass and everything could be okay for a while, until some disease is missed and we have an outbreak all over the country. It would be an economic disaster that would be very hard to recover from.”
The Washington Post also reports that a similar system is being developed for the beef industry which will see industry employees take on the responsibility of policing themselves.
The next presidential administration, whenever we get to it, is going to be tasked with rebuilding the entire inspection and food safety process that's been dismantled by Trump. And it will probably require a major disaster like the one outlined by Pat Basu before they'll have the political cover to resume control of inspections.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll be over here having a tuna sandwich.