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Organic Consumers Association

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Cook Organic not the Planet Campaign

Inspector General Wants to Know If USDA Concealed Worker Safety Data

The Office of Inspector General is evaluating whether the U.S. Department of Agriculture concealed information and used flawed data to develop and promote a new hog inspection system that would shift many food-safety tasks from federal inspectors to pork industry employees.

The USDA’s inspector general, Phyllis Fong, notified 16 members of Congress on Friday that her office has launched the probe in response to concerns the lawmakers raised in March, according to a letter obtained by The Washington Post.

Under the proposed new system, plant owners would be allowed to run pork plant slaughter lines as fast as they want, a provision that has worker safety advocates concerned that worker injury rates would rise. The USDA said in a proposed rule — which if finalized would create the new system — that its data shows worker injury rates probably would be lower than those at traditional plants where limits are placed on line speeds.

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