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OCA Calls on USDA to Reveal Secret Changes to Poultry ‘Modernization’ Act and to Allow Public Comment

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Food Safety page.


Katherine Paul , 207.653.3090, Organic Consumers Association

FINLAND, Minn. – The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) today, July 17, 2014, called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to release the details of its secret changes to the Poultry Modernization Act and to open a new public comment period on the changes.

“Hundreds of thousands of consumers, more than 100 animal welfare and food safety experts, and 68 members of Congress opposed the Poultry Modernization Act because it puts both consumers and poultry plant workers at risk,” said OCA National Director, Ronnie Cummins. “The USDA needs to come clean about what changes it has since made to the rule, and give the public an opportunity to comment. Otherwise, the agency’s lack of transparency on this issue leaves us wondering what it is hiding.”

The USDA made changes to the Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection rule in response to a deluge of comments and complaints. But the agency refuses to divulge those changes until the final rule is published in the Federal Register. And it won’t give the public a chance to comment.

Earlier this year, more than 100 groups (including the Organic Consumers Association) signed a letter to President Obama and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack urging them to rescind the rule. The rule, written largely by Tyson Foods, would allow company employees to “inspect” chicken, and it would increase the speed at which workers must process chickens; it puts both consumers and workers at risk.

Poultry is already the most deadly source of food borne illness. And, working in a poultry processing plant is already one of the most dangerous jobs in America.

Potentially harmful bacteria lurks in almost all U.S. chicken. That’s according to a recent Consumer Reports survey that found, “More than half of the samples contained fecal contaminants. And about half of them harbored at least one bacterium that was resistant to three or more commonly prescribed antibiotics.”

More on the Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection rule

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots non-profit 501(c)3 public interest organization campaigning for health, justice, and sustainability. The Organic Consumers Fund is a 501(c)4 allied organization of the Organic Consumers Association, focused on grassroots lobbying and legislative action.