After sharply criticizing a proposal to expand the HACCP Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) pilot to more poultry plants, Food & Water Watch is asking for unfettered access to a HIMP plant to better evaluate the idea.

chickeninspection-iphone.jpgIn a letter to the National Chicken Council and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, Tony Corbo, a lobbyist for Food & Water Watch, asked that he be permitted to work as a company sorter on a slaughter line in the HIMP program. 

“I would like for you to start making arrangements so that I may work in a HIMP plant for at least one week,” wrote Corbo. “As you know, Food & Water Watch has been especially critical of HIMP and the proposed rule to expand this inspection model to all poultry plants…We do not support the privatization of inspection. However, both FSIS and the poultry industry claim that the HIMP inspection model is superior to the on the one that is used in the non-HIMP plants.”

Corbo said he’s heard that plants often turn down the line speed for plant tours, so he requested more continuous access. He wants to work as a sorter “to get real experience.”

“Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has repeatedly observed in recent weeks that most consumers do not know how their food is produced in this country. He is correct.” wrote Corbo. “Therefore, I want to learn first-hand how poultry processed with fewer government inspectors will lead to a safer and more wholesome food supply.”

Corbo said he also wants to be able to select which plant he’s assigned and that he receive whatever training is offered to poultry inspection employees. He is also requiring “unfettered access to company employees and to FSIS inspection personnel during non-working periods to ask questions.”

When asked whether the group might grant the request, the National Chicken Council told Food Safety News: “We received Mr. Corbo’s letter and are reviewing it.”

For more on the proposed rule to expand HIMP, see: Debate Heats Up Over Poultry Inspection Proposal.