Food & Water Watch is calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to review its decision to allow the newly privatized meat inspection system of Australia to be considered equivalent to U.S. inspection, according to a press release by the group.
In a letter sent to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this week, the group pointed to “repeated discoveries of meat imported from Australia that was contaminated with fecal material and digestive tract contents.”
“Documents from USDA and Australian officials reveal that this is not an isolated problem,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “The repeated problems with products coming from Australia in 2012 show that this is a systemic problem and that privatized meat inspection in Australia is not working.”
According to the release: “One letter from a USDA official to Australian food safety officials summed up the problems in imported products from Australia: ‘Within the last month, there have been five additional zero tolerance (fecal material/ingesta) POE (point-of-entry) violations in four separate establishments, including one establishment that had repetitive violations during this month (December, 2012), as well as earlier this calendar year.'”
FWW also blamed a similar privatized inspection system — which they said USDA “secretly recognized in 2006” — for the recent recall of Canadian beef for E. coli 0157:H7. Approximately 2.5 million pounds of the recalled beef was shipped to the United States this fall, according to USDA.
“U.S. consumers should not be endangered by unsafe imports from Australia or from any other country exporting to the United States,” said Hauter. “It is time for USDA to revoke the equivalency determinations of privatized meat inspection schemes, and to abandon its attempts to privatize inspection here in the United States.”
Food & Water Watch’s letter can be found here.