USDA Food Inspector Calls Job "Just A Joke"

An article in the Chicago Tribune takes yet another look at our broken food safety system, declaring that a USDA Food Inspector’s job is now less about inspecting meat and more about inspecting paperwork.

After the Jack in the Box case, the USDA required each meat plant to adopt a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point plan. The plans let companies design their own food safety measures, usually around the need to process beef quickly.

“HACCP is an internationally recognized, prevention-based food safety program,” Eamich said. “Inspection personnel have full authority to take immediate action to prevent the entry of adulterated products into commerce.”

The hope was that meatpacking plants would adopt better practices. But inspectors today say their jobs have been reduced to monitoring a company’s hazard analysis plan, instead of enforcing USDA’s own inspection regulations.

“They [meatpacking companies] write their own plan,” said one inspector, who asked to remain anonymous. “They write everything for themselves. We’re ‘monitoring’ that now. It’s just a joke. We mostly check paper now. You can put anything you want on paper.”

That’s comforting.

Food inspectors overwhelmed [Chicago Tribune]
(Photo:Michael Berch)