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Group sues government, says its essentially legal for trace amounts of fecal matter in meat

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WASHINGTON —  A doctor’s advocacy group sued the US Department of agriculture this week claiming that food inspectors have essentially made it legal to have trace amounts of fecal matter in mean. 


This product “may contain feces” is a label that the advocacy group suggested that the government require meat distributors to put on the food they send out to grocery stores.

The recommendation is tongue-in-cheek, Deborah Press, an attorney for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), told CNN. The group represents 12,000 physicians whose mission includes promoting plant-based diets and ethical scientific research.

But it gets at the real concerns the PCRM has about the US Department of Agriculture’s food safety inspection system.

The US Department of Agriculture has a “zero tolerance policy for fecal material on meat and poultry,” a spokeswoman told CNN.

USDA said it sends inspectors out to facilities who look at a “statistically valid sample of carcasses randomly selected throughout the production shift.”

If inspectors find fecal material on an animal carcass, they ensure that contaminated meat can’t enter the food supply, USDA said. And if inspectors observe repeat infractions, the FSIS uses “progressive enforcement actions” against the meat company.

But Press says USDA’s current inspection policy isn’t good enough because it only applies to fecal matter that’s “visible” on the production line. The USDA has relaxed its rules on the speed at which poultry companies can process birds. The requirement used to be 140 birds per minute, but has since been raised to 175 birds per minute.

That would mean those working on the line are scanning about three birds per second. They’re whizzing by at a rate that’s hard for the naked eye to comprehend.

Link to the original story here.

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