Parts of cattle supposedly banned under rules enacted after the nation's first case of mad cow disease are making it into the human food chain, according to the union that represents federal inspectors in meat plants.
The National Joint Council of Food Inspection Locals, which represents meat and poultry inspectors in federally regulated plants nationwide, told the U.S. Department of Agriculture in a letter earlier this month that body parts known as "specified risk materials" were being allowed into the production chain.…
The union based its Dec. 8 complaint on reports from inspectors in several states, though it declined to say which ones.
I wonder if any of these plants are located in Postville, Iowa?
And then, this:
In its letter, sent to the head of the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, the union also reported that some inspectors were "told not to intervene" when they saw body parts of some older animals, sent for packing with those of younger animals. This is despite export requirements for certain parts that have been set by U.S. trading partners.
Specifically, the union said, kidneys from older animals were sent down the line to be packed for the Mexican market, which prohibits them from cows over 30 months. When the inspectors complained, [the union's] Painter said, "The agency basically told the inspectors, 'Don't worry about it.'"
Cohen said the age checks, which are usually performed before slaughter, are meant to be handled by supervisors and veterinary medical officers. "It is not the online inspectors whose role it is to determine" an animal's age, Cohen said.
"The inspector on the line's role is to look for disease," he said. "If an online inspector feels as though something is not being done they should talk to their supervisors."
The online inspectors performed the checks on their own amid concerns that older animals were not being marked as such, according to the union and to an attorney familiar with the matter.
The cases referenced in the letter were apparently reported to supervisors and to USDA district offices, Painter said, but the inspectors were told, "Don't worry about it. That's the plant's responsibility."
You can read it all here.