Nope. Here's proof. In a recent report by the USDA s Office of Inspector General, 210 inspectors (out of 327 responding) indicated that since HACCP began at their plant, there have been instances when they have not taken direct action against contamination (feces, vomit, metal shards, etc.) that they observed and would have taken action under the old system. Of those, 206 said this occurs daily or weekly.
Inspectors now derisively call the HACCP "Have A Cup of Coffee and Pray."
A USDA Inspector named Ronnie Sarratt was quoted in one report saying, "I've had birds that had yellow pus visibly coming out of their insides, and I was told to save the breast meat off them and even save the second joint of the wing. You might get those breasts today at a store in a package of breast fillets. And you might get the other in a pack of buffalo wings."
Previously, inspectors used to condemn all birds with air sacculitus, a disease that causes yellow fluids and mucus to break up into the lungs. In a 1989 article in Southern Exposure, USDA inspector Estes Philpott of Arkansas estimated that he was forced to approve 40 percent of air sac birds that would have been condemned 10 years ago, before Ronald Reagan began gutting the USDA inspector's budget.
Today, after Clinton's near-complete abandonment of federal inspectors, the situation is part gross-out comedy, part bio-terror.
This, say the Russians, is the problem with American chicken. It's smeared in shit and vomit and swarming with lethal pathogens. They want real federal regulators to regulate the chicken, not industry hacks.
"There are several problems with your poultry. The main one is that in the US you don't believe bacteria like salmonella to be a health hazard," said Sergei Kouznetsov, spokesman for the Agriculture Ministry's Press Service, in an interview with the eXile. "Our doctors have a different opinion. We consider this a major health hazard."
The problem with American chicken is that, based on an agreement signed in 1996 between the US and Russia, USDA inspectors are required to inspect the chicken meat. However, shortly after the agreement was signed, the Clinton Administration handed responsibility for inspecting the meat to the producers themselves.
"I've been to the US plants myself," said Kouznetsov, who lived in the United States for four years. "I've seen people with tags on saying USDA standing on the line where the chickens are gutted, but actually they are on the payroll of the companies. So you can imagine."
According to Kouznetsov, just in the past year, the incidence of salmonella-infected chicken shipped from the United States continued to increase.
"In recent years and recent months, there has been an increasing number of shipments tainted with [foodborne pathogens]," he said. "We warned the USDA but we got no response, and that's because the USDA has no control anymore. Only the ban we imposed this spring brought the Americans to the negotiating table to discuss how we can make the American chicken healthier."
Beyond the issue of fecal soup is the problem of antibiotics in chicken feed. While Americans are left to the mercy of the free market to decide if ingesting antibiotic-laced chicken meat is healthy or not, the Russians still rely on government medical experts. And they fear that humans, eating this meat, will render many antibiotics useless while at the same time helping to create Superbugs that are antibiotic resistant.
Russians aren't the only ones worried about antibiotics in chicken feed.
According to Linda Bren in the Food and Drug Administration's Consumer Magazine (January/ February 2001), there is new evidence that drugs used in poultry can cause antibiotic resistant diseases in those who consume chicken. Tyson uses fluoroquinone, an antibiotic used to keep chickens and turkeys from dying of E. coli infection. Fluoroquinone does kill E.coli, but another bacteria, campylobacter, may build a resistance to this drug. Campylobacter is linked to the most common diarrheal illness in the U.S., affecting over two million people each year.