19 February 2008

Blame Games

I love how the Humane Society tapes bad practices at a slaughter plant, then waits weeks, releases to the video to media, and the USDA gets blamed for it.

What's wrong with this picture?

Yes, this is the kind of thing inspectors are supposed to catch. But it's possible for any plant to present a clean face during inspection. If the inspectors don't see the problem the day they're there, and no one presents any evidence that there is a problem, then as far as they know, there is no problem.

And it is possible, as some news stories are claiming, that the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is understaffed for inspectors. I don't work for FSIS so I don't know for sure. I am willing to bet, though, that if they don't have enough inspectors it's because they don't have the budget to pay them.

The HSUS maintains an adversarial relationship with all the branches of the USDA. In many ways, that's a good thing -- it is our critics who keep us on our toes.

Seriously though -- if they really gave a damn about either the welfare of the animals or the safety of the food supply, why the hell didn't they take those tapes to the FSIS at once? Adversaries or not, the FSIS is the agency with the authority to do something about that kind of thing.

But the HSUS didn't contact FSIS. They taped that activity in October and November. They released the tapes only in late January.

Now FSIS is taking flak, and not so much for failing to catch the abuse during an inspection (which might be a legitimate complaint) as for failing to recall the meat 'in time.'

Meanwhile HSUS parades around as the champion of animals and friend of the consumer, and no one's writing op-eds about how they irresponsibly manipulated the media for their own gain.

What the hell?

EDIT: Oh, and before the foodies among you get torqued by certain major food site bloggers, please remember that the National Animal Identification System is VOLUNTARY.

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