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Some of my members have been intimidated by agency management in the past when they came forward and tried to enforce agency regulations and policies. I will give you a personal example:
In December 2004, I began to receive reports that the new SRM regulations were not being uniformly enforced. I wrote a letter to the Assistant FSIS Administrator for Field Operations at the time conveying to him what I had heard...
I was paid a visit at my home in Alabama by an FSIS official dispatched from the Atlanta regional office to convince me to drop the issue. I told him that I would not. Then, the agency summoned me to come here to Washington, DC where agency officials subjected me to several hours of interrogation including wanting me to identify which of my members were blowing the whistle on the SRM removal violations. I refused to do so....I was then placed on disciplinary investigation status. The agency even contacted the USDA Office of Inspector General to explore criminal charges being filed against me...
Both my union AFGE and the consumer group Public Citizen filed separate Freedom of Information Act requests in December 2004 for any non-compliance records in the FSIS data base.... It was not until August 2005 that over 1000 non-compliance reports – weighing some 16 pounds -- were turned over to both AFGE and Public Citizen that proved that what my members were telling me was correct – that some beef slaughter facilities were not complying with the SRM removal regulations... on the same day those records were released, I received written notification from the agency that they were dropping their disciplinary investigation – eight months after their “investigation” began
[B]FROM THE USDA ON SRM[/B]
It is important to understand that the BSE testing conducted by the USDA is not for food safety purposes, but is part of our surveillance to determine the presence or prevalence of the disease in the U.S. cattle population. Food safety is assured by prohibiting the use of specified risk materials (SRMs)-those tissues where the BSE infective agent would be found-in the human food supply.