As the government shutdown is on day 32, my news feed is filled with so much false formation that somethings needed to be cleared up. In response to erroneous reports in the news and (mostly) on social media, the National Pork Producers Council is reminding pork producers and consumers that federal meat inspectors are working in meat packing plants despite the government shutdown.
NPPC — and other livestock groups — a year ago urged Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to deem as essential USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service inspectors. Without inspections, pointed out NPPC in a Jan. 19, 2018, letter to the secretary, “Meat and poultry processing plants are prohibited by law from operating.”
Had inspectors not been deemed essential — and had been furloughed — U.S. packing plants and the 500,000 workers they employee would have been idled, causing significant disruptions throughout the meat supply chain, from livestock producers unable to market their animals to grocery stores unable to stock the meat case.
Also continuing to operate during the shutdown are USDA Market News Service staff who produce the twice-daily livestock mandatory price reports, which are the sole source of market information on sales to packers of cattle, hogs and lambs and on the subsequent sale of meat products. As he did for FSIS inspectors, Perdue made Market News Service employees essential.
“The mandatory price report is a critical tool used by livestock producers, packers, and others when making marketing decisions,” said NPPC President Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Ohio. “It plays a central role in ensuring competition in the meat industry and in keeping the livestock industry vibrant.”
In addition, FDA is doing everything they can to continue public health and safety with fresh foods and produce.
THREAD: We've received multiple inquiries about which critical food operations continue during the shutdown. Examples of the work that we're still doing include: 1) High-risk domestic food surveillance inspections; 2) foodborne illness surveillance and outbreak investigations;
— Scott Gottlieb, M.D. (@SGottliebFDA) January 22, 2019
Gottlieb continued on Twitter, “3) Execution of high-risk food recalls; 4) Inspection of foreign food facilities; and 5) Sampling of imported food samples (including sampling for antibiotic residue contamination and decomposition analysis). These are among critical activities ongoing by dedicated, unpaid staff.”
So this meme you may have seen on social media, is not true — and is unfairly critical of how lettuce farmers operate. As the saying goes, you can’t trust everything you see on the internet (shocker).
It should also be noted that farmers and ranchers work around the clock to provide the upmost care for the public health through the foods they provide each and everyday, whether or not the government is working.