On May 26, Food Safety News published an article written by law student Brianna Leach titled “The meat industry’s grip on government—time for an overhaul?”

If this essay by a law student is “the best to be selected for publication in FSN” then I feel sorry for those who have to plow through those that don’t meet the mark.

In the essay Ms. Leach not only attacks the protein industry, but the three branches of the federal government of which she must know little about.

She bemoans the fact that the meat industry employs lobbyists to build relationships with Congress. She implies that they control the Chairs of the Ag Appropriations Committees so nothing gets by them that they don’t want.

She obviously has never met Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, D-CT, who was chair of the House Ag Appropriations Committee while I was Undersecretary for Food Safety at the USDA. She took her marching orders from consumer groups like Food and Water Watch, Consumer Federation of America, CSPI and the Consumer Union, not to mention the union representing USDA’s food inspectors.

She single handedly shot down my proposed Risk Based Inspection System that would have put more inspector hours in plants with bad food safety records and plants making riskier foods.   

She seems to be in favor of plants paying for inspection, a plan riddled with problems.

First of all, if the inspector is being paid by the plant vs. the government, is it not likely that favors will follow? Like; “clean up that mess before I get back and you won’t get a citation.”

Secondly, she would likely shutter many small plants already hanging by a thread and just compound the problem of monoliths producing even a higher percentage of products. 

Executive branch: USDA’s puppet master
She says industry workers will “learn the trade of identifying diseased and contaminated meat.”

Excuse me Ms. Leach, but even the best trained FSIS inspector cannot identify Salmonella or E coli on meat.  What the plant workers are doing is sorting out blemishes and broken bones, quality concerns to protect the brand. 

Remember, Ms. Leach, these are basically young, healthy animals. Old cull cows, steers and bulls still get FSIS inspection on the lines.

She mentions that FSIS employees are required to be in the facilities and some have contracted COVID. She does not clarify if they contracted the virus in the community or in the plant, but here is where her true agenda begins to shed some light.

If the inspectors don’t go to work because of COVID, we can’t kill animals.

She further sheds light on her agenda when she says instead of focusing on keeping meat producing plants open, the president singles out meat “without regard for the many alternative sources of protein including dairy and produce. . . .”

When I had the authority, I took away the authority for JBS Swift’s beef plant in Greeley, CO, to ship to Japan. 

I also shut down Tyson’s “raised without antibiotics” label because it was just not true. That was after they spent millions promoting and developing it. 

Ms. Leach, I was nobody’s puppet, and I take personal offense in your implying that I, along with the entire USD, was. 

Animal rights groups have claimed COVID came about because of inhumane handling of animals and because of factory farms. They are using the pandemic to line their pockets.

Ms. Leach suggests the pandemic “originated from a processing facility in China. . . .”

Once more with the anti-meat, not so subtle, agenda.

That is truly news to me. I have heard maybe wet fish markets, bats and even a contaminated worker from the virology lab located there; but a processing plant? 

That is a pretty big stretch for a law student to suggest as the source when experts, loaded with data, still cannot 100 percent identify the true source.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)