Meat Industry Self Regulation

1236 Words 5 Pages
The subject of regulation has been a constant battle between the meat industry and government. Failure to protect the safety of meat leads to a decline in consumer confidence in that product. The rise in E. coli and salmonella outbreaks clearly shows the need for meat regulation to restore consumer confidence in the industry. There really is shit in the meat as stated by Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation. In 2011, statistics from the CDC supports Schlosser statement by reporting that 48 million Americans get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3, 000 die from foodborne illness yearly; 78 percent of ground beef contained pathogens that were spread primarily by fecal matter (cdc.gov). When the meat industry can sell tainted meat and millions …show more content…
One flaw in the HACCP system is that it has shown that meat regulators lack independence, and the meat industry has fully captured regulators. When this happens, lawmakers serve private interests rather than the public good, which subverts the purpose of having the agency. This capture is evident in the development of HACCP regulations which calls for self-policing by the industry and discourages enforcement by government inspectors. Self-regulation is being touted by the government as the modern way to protect the public. Steve Johnson, author of “The Politics of Meat”, calls the meat industry “a powerful political force in the regulatory arena” (Johnson). The meat industry has a long history of challenging government decisions. For instance, in 2001, Supreme Beef won an appeal which stated the sale of meat contaminated with salmonella was acceptable. Today, that pathogen is the top cause of foodborne illness resulting in death. The meat industry makes extremely large financial contributions to key regulators that have direct impact on their business interest and have accustomed themselves to having powerful friends in the upper levels of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The government is meant to protect the consumers, but the failure of government regulators to put people’s safety ahead of industry profits is the result of government being overly influenced by the meat industry. A second flaw in the HACCP system is that the agency holds the meat industry accountable for its food safety technology and implementation of the regulations set forth; not for the disease pathogens in its meat. For example, a USDA approval seal on meat, does mean the meat has passed inspection and is free of E. coli or other pathogens; the approval only means that the meat processing plant submitted the proper paperwork showing they followed the guidelines. Lastly, critics point out

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