Union pushes food inspectors' lawsuit

Union pushes food inspectors' lawsuit

American Federation of Government Employees President Bobby Harnage told a Capitol Hill news conference Wednesday that, contrary to statements by some Agriculture Department officials, the union has no intention of dropping its lawsuit to block implementation of the Agriculture Department's inspection program in slaughter plants.

Appearing on behalf of the National Joint Council of Food Inspection Locals, an AFGE affiliate, Harnage said any settlement has "got to be in writing and got to be a documented court settlement" or the department's Food Safety and Inspection Service "will look for opportunities to skirt the issue."

The union contended that the FSIS' plans for experiments involving random inspection of carcasses indicate that the agency intends to drop so-called organoleptic inspection of every carcass, a practice the union contended is required by law.

Scientists and consumer activists have lauded the new approach, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, because it is meant to guard against contamination by pathogens such as e coli and salmonella.

AFGE Northeast Council President Arthur Hughes also said the union intends to ask Congress to hold hearings on the implementation of HACCP.