The meat industry is moving towards self-regulation for identifying diseased animals, an article in The Washington Post asserts. The article documents a series of changes shifting responsibility for identifying contamination in meat production, especially pork and poultry, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to employees of the regulated production plants.

The Post spoke to a former hog inspector who worked under the trial program for testing the proposed system. “I saw the alleged inspections that were performed by plant workers; they weren’t inspections. They were supposed to meet or exceed USDA standards — I never saw that happen,” the Post quotes him as saying.

USDA also states that plants participating in the trial program had fewer worker injuries, but Texas State University researchers reportedly found it “impossible” for the agency “to draw any statistically valid conclusion about worker injury rate differences” based on data the researchers obtained through a public information request.

The Post compares the projected shift in regulatory oversight to the relationship between aircraft manufacturers and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). “Look at the FAA. It took a year or so before the crashes happened,” a former chief veterinarian for the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service is quoted as saying. “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.”

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For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.