As residents of the United States, we have the expectation that our food supply will be safe and free of adulterants and/or contamination. We trust that the agencies tasked with oversight of the food manufacturing processes can prevent diseases from spreading throughout the population.
Brace yourself, then. As of last month, the county’s pork supply just became much less safe due to the present administration’s changes to the industry’s regulations.
In the early part of the 20th century, the government passed laws limiting speeds of pork manufacturing lines to allow government inspectors sufficient time to inspect the meat for signs of contamination. The administration proposed doing away with the slower speeds, thus putting both pork industry workers and consumers at greater risk.
But wait, there’s more
The changes also include reducing the number of inspectors from government agencies with oversight of the industry. The 40% reduction means that those inspectors now are replaced by employees of the company they are monitoring.
Perhaps worst of all, there are no specifications whatsoever that these inspectors be trained or supervised by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Pork manufacturers are now free to create their own programs to test for microbiological contamination — or not. There are no longer uniform standards in place that pork manufacturers must meet in order for their products to be deemed safe for consumers.
Playing field far from even
Under the new rules, Company A may be concerned with consumer and worker safety and put in place stringent requirements to keep them safe.
But Company B? Not so much. They value profit over product safety and take full advantage of the lax regulations and oversight. People can get sick and even die as a result.
Problems already evident
Perhaps to little surprise, there are already issues with the new directives. A pilot project involving five pork slaughterhouses shows the adverse impact of this type of industry deregulation. A consumer review of government data derived from those five plants determined that these operations with fewer inspectors and speeded-up production lines resulted in an increase in regulatory violations.
Hold companies liable for safety and health violations
What, if anything, can consumers do when companies expose them to hazards? They are not without recourse, and one way is to seek compensation for their damages, injuries and losses by joining together with other plaintiffs and filing a class action lawsuit.