Consumer watchdogs and federal food inspectors represented by the American Federation of Government Employees plan to deliver more than 150,000 petitions to the U.S. Department of Agriculture opposing proposed changes to the poultry inspections process that they say will impact the health and safety of the American public.

The groups will gather outside the USDA headquarters at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, April 20, to hand-deliver the petitions, which denounce a regulation proposed by the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service that would partially privatize the poultry inspections process and increase the number of birds federal inspectors must examine. "Budget cuts are driving the USDA to take this drastic step, which would reduce our highly trained teams of federal food safety inspectors to a skeleton crew who would have to review three birds every second — a humanly impossible task," said American Federation of Government Employees National President John Gage. "This is a recipe for putting diseased chickens right on our kitchen tables, and we are urging the USDA to reconsider this foolish and dangerous proposal."

The Poultry Science Association has said that it supports the inspection system updates, saying that while details still need to be worked out, technology has allowed for the inspection process to become more efficient, science-based and consumer-safety oriented.

More information on the petitions is available at www.LetThemEatChicken.com.