Tyson Foods is requesting that company employees at a Kansas beef plant take over some inspection responsibilities previously held by United States Department of Agriculture officials.
If enacted, the proposal would reduce the number of USDA inspectors present on the line in the factory for "post-mortem, pre-sortation activities" regarding food safety and disease conditions, per the proposal. The company's request to the USDA was written in March, and obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request by Food and Water Watch, a company that is suing Tyson, reports NBC News.
The USDA is considering the proposition, reports NBC News, which is in reference to the company's factory in Holcomb, Kansas.
According to the proposal, the requested changes aim to improve efficiency, work toward pathogen reduction, and "allow better use of Agency's resources" while providing equal outcomes to current inspection practices.
But consumer advocates are hesitant. Former USDA chief veterinarian Pat Basu told NBC News "bypassing safeguards" may result in missed signs of disease, drug injections, or bacteria due to lack of adequate training.
"It could be devastating for the whole country — you cannot turn it over," he told NBC News.
This isn't the first time the government has considering bowing out of certain inspection responsibilities. The Obama administration allowed an increase in privatized poultry inspection, reports NBC News, and the Trump administration announced a proposition to establish a "new voluntary inspection system" for pork plants. Read more at NBC News. Taylor Watson