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USDA sued over new chicken rule

Food & Water Watch files suit to stop rule's implementation

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Above image credit: The way meat is inspected is about to change, and some critics are concerned about what it means for food safety. (USDA photo by Lance Cheung)

A group that advocates for food safety went to federal court Thursday to try and stop the U.S. Department of Agriculture from implementing new rules for poultry inspection that they say would put consumers at risk.

The new rule — the biggest change in meat inspection in the last half century — was featured in an investigative story last week by the Hale Center for Journalism. Among other things, the investigation found that preparations for the new rule, scheduled to go into effect in late October, have caused disarray, inspector shortages and other problems in the nationwide food inspection system.

Food & Water Watch, the food safety advocacy group that filed the suit, said in a press statement that turning over some food inspection duties to poultry plant workers – as the new rule would do – would hurt consumers. Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said the rule would “reverse 100 years of effective government regulation of the meat industry.”

“It’s essentially a return to Upton Sinclair’s ‘The Jungle,'” she said. “It’s a huge step backwards for our food safety system.”

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