Eat poultry? Data reveals brands that self-inspect under controversial USDA program

The food safety group Food & Water Watch (FWW) is publicizing data listing the companies and brands of chicken and turkey that have adopted the USDA’s controversial “modernized” inspection system. The New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS) shifts responsibility for inspections from USDA specialists to company employees. The change was strongly opposed by food safety groups, but the Obama Administration implemented it anyway in early 2015. (Worker safety advocates also opposed the rule because it proposed a significant increase in line speeds which would lead to more repetitive motion injuries. The line speed increase was dropped from the final rule.)

In a statement, FWW’s Wenonah Hauter said,

“The USDA should never have allowed companies to police themselves, but to add insult to injury, they failed to even let consumers know which products are coming out of these plants.”

FWW obtained the list of companies through a Freedom of Information Act request. It lists more than 50 brands of poultry products produced under NPIS. I see plenty of familiar names, including Kirkland’s, Wampler Foods, and Miller Amish Country Farms.

USDA continues to recruit companies to adopt NPIS. It’s puzzling the amount of trust the agency places in poultry companies to conduct their own inspections. These are the same firms that are denying workers bathroom breaks.

Kudos to FWW for pressing USDA for the list. If you buy chicken, you’ll want to check it out.