Hamfisted Approach?

The USDA is piloting a new inspection program to help hasten pork production, reports Lindsay Abrams. Inspectors are balking:

“The Government Accountability Project released affidavits Friday from three USDA inspectors working in plants running the pilot program, known as HIMP, as well as from a fourth, Joe Ferguson, who retired last year after 23 years with the agency. All voice concerns about the public health implications of increasing line speeds, which adhere closely to the criticisms from outside parties. The gist, in the words of one anonymous inspector: ‘There aren’t enough eyes on the line to monitor carcasses coming by at such high speed.'”

Stretched Thin

The increasing popularity of organic foods is causing the USDA fits, says Caelainn Barr:

“The $35 billion organic-food industry has nearly tripled in size in the past decade, challenging the Agriculture Department’s ability to monitor the more than 25,000 farms and other organizations that sell organic crops and livestock.

“There are currently 81 accredited “certifying agents,” or groups that stamp food as organic in the U.S. But of the 37 that had a complete review this year, 23 were cited for failing to correctly enforce certification requirements on farms in audits, according to an internal Agriculture Department report.”

Spud Dud

The USDA recently approved a genetically modified potato, which is “intended to reduce cancer by eliminating acrylamide.” Michael Ruhlman is appalled:

“It causes cancer in rats and therefore, maybe, in humans? We don’t know for certain. In one of these links a scientist guessed that 3,000 people a year get cancer from acrylamide, though on what he based his guess is, well, anybody’s guess….

“And here’s my rant line: We fuck with our food at our own peril.”