Tyson Foods has filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture, claiming that an inspector for the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) was negligent in signing off ante-mortem inspections of hogs at its plant in Storm Lake, Iowa.

According to a report on the We Are Iowa website, Tyson Foods alleges Dr. Yolanda Thompson, a FSIS inspector, signed off on the ante-mortem inspections in March 2018 for 4622 hogs without performing the actual inspections. The intent of the inspections is to determine whether animals are safe from chemical and/or drug residues and fit for consumption.

However, the court document stated Tyson wasn’t aware of alleged Thompson’s negligence until it obtained video footage showed that Thompson did not enter the pre-slaughter holding area to perform a visual inspection of the hogs.

As a result, Tyson Foods stated it had “no choice but to destroy the negligently inspected carcasses and those with which they had been commingled, salvaging portions of the product for non-food related purposes at a greatly reduced rate.”

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Tyson Foods, in the suit, said Thompson’s alleged negligence resulted in more than $2.4 million in losses. Those losses allegedly came in the form of:

  • Gross loss due to the income from selling the meat to renderers was less than had it gone into retail
  • Losses due to cancelled sales primarily related to offal and lard
  • Additional freight and temporary storage fees pending the destruction of the product
  • Losses due to reduction in normal processing activities while diverting resources in response to the alleged situation

In addition to a pork plant in Storm Lake, Tyson Foods also has a turkey processing plant in the community. Court documents stated that Thompson usually does the inspections at the turkey plant, rather than the pork plant.

USDA has until June 5 to file a response to Tyson’s complaint.