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USDA blasts Washington Post

Article says the Trump administration plans to give the pork industry more power over safety inspections at processing plants.

by Mario Parker

Donald Trump is known for his attacks against the Washington Post. Now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is getting in on the action.

In a highly unusual move for the farm agency, the USDA put out a statement blasting the newspaper over its April 3 story that said the administration plans to give more power to the pork industry over safety inspections.

“Shame on you, Washington Post,” the USDA said in the statement Monday. “This story earns you at least four Pinocchios.”

Read the Washington Post story, “Pork industry soon will have more power over meat inspections.”

While other parts of the Trump administration, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have issued statements in the past pushing back at media coverage, the USDA has typically been more staid. Meanwhile, the Washington Post, owned by Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos, has repeatedly taken fire from the president.

In the story, the Washington Post said under a proposed new inspection system, responsibilities for identifying diseased and contaminated pork would be shared with inspectors and plant employees and that training would be at the discretion of plant owners. Limits on production line speeds would also be eliminated, the newspaper said.

“It’s important to understand that under the proposal, establishment employees will not conduct inspections and they will not condemn animals,” the USDA said. “The Post’s decision to continue to parrot arguments that are devoid of factual and scientific evidence only serves to further the personal agenda of special interest groups that have nothing to do with ensuring food safety.”

The statement Monday was issued by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service unit. The arm “is made up of only career civil servants, we do not have any politically-appointed employees that work for FSIS,” Aaron Lavallee, deputy assistant administrator in the office of public affairs and consumer education, said in an email.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mario Parker in Chicago at mparker22@bloomberg.net
To contact the editors responsible for this story: James Attwood at jattwood3@bloomberg.net Millie Munshi, Steven Frank
© 2019 Bloomberg L.P

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