WASHINGTON -- The Agriculture Department is proposing to reduce the number of government inspectors at poultry slaughter plants.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says about 1,000 government inspector jobs at poultry plants would be phased out as companies take over the job of looking for visual flaws like bruises in chickens on the processing line.
Vilsack says the move will shift inspectors to jobs more important to food safety, like sampling for pathogens and keeping conditions sanitary.
The secretary says the move could save the government as much as $95 million in the first three years.
The chicken industry supports the plan. Consumer group Food and Water Watch opposes it, saying it gives poultry producers too much control over inspections.