Put down your ham sandwich before you read this one, folks. The US Department of Agriculture is hoping to expand a pilot program replacing half the USDA inspectors in meat plants with inspectors employed by the companies themselves, while speeding up production lines. The pilot program has been in place in five hog plants since the late 1990s and the results aren't comforting:line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>If what you want is to get the government out of your food safety (and the fecal matter into it), this program is for you! It's not just that there's less inspection, but increasing the speed of production can make it harder for workers to keep up with safety and sanitation precautions—in addition to making injuries to workers more likely as well. So it's a win-win, Republican-style. But for the rest of us, it's a lose-lose, and maybe USDA under President Obama should be putting the brakes on, not expanding the program.