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Unformatted text preview: it greatly diminished their authority to detect
and remove contaminated meat. Today the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is demoralized and understaffed. In 1978, before the
first known outbreak of E. coli 0157:H7, the USDA had 12,000 meat inspectors; now it has about 7,500. The federal inspectors I interviewed
felt under enormous pressure from their USDA superiors not to slow down the line speeds at slaughterhouses. “A lot of us are feeling beaten
down,” one inspector told me. Job openings at the service are going unfilled for months. Federal inspectors warn that the new HACCP plans
are only as good as the people running them — and that in the wrong hands HACCP stands for Have a Cup of Coffee and Pray. The Hudson
Foods plant in Columbus, Nebraska, was operating under a HACCP plan in 1997 when it shipped 35 million pounds of potentially tainted
“We give no serious validity to company-generated records,” a longtime federal inspector told me. “There’s a lot of falsification going on.”
His view wa...
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- Spring '08