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U.S. Wants to Trim Meat Inspections

From Associated Press

Despite recent scares over contaminated hot dogs and other meat products, the government wants to cut back inspectors’ visits to processing plants, saving millions of dollars in overtime pay that is borne by the industry.

Inspections would be reduced at plants, including soup canneries, where the risk of contamination is lowest, Agriculture Department officials said Tuesday.

“By having our resources allocated based on risk the public is well served,” said Margaret Glavin, associate administrator of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Inspectors currently are required to visit each processing plant once a shift, including overtime runs. The department wants to switch to daily, random checks.

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Inspections would concentrate on plants that have a history of problems or are considered to be riskier because of what they process, such as ground beef, the most common source of contamination.

The change would save the industry, which must cover the inspectors’ overtime pay, an estimated $19 million a year.

Critics, including the inspectors union, say the change will benefit the industry while possibly endangering public health.


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