Tyson Foods and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) have reached a settlement in which the federal agency agreed to pay the company $1 million. In the suit, Tyson claims an FSIS inspector lied about inspecting hogs at its Storm Lake, Iowa, plant, which put Tyson Foods in a position to have to destroy 8,000 carcasses.
The suit was filed in May. At the time, Tyson alleged Dr. Yolanda Thompson, an FSIS inspector, signed off on the ante-mortem inspections in March 2018 for 4,622 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 are fit for consumption. It was later determined through the viewing of video footage that the inspector never entered the plant that day and signed the inspection cards while sitting in her vehicle.
Tyson had argued that USDA and FSIS employees knew of deficiencies in the inspector's inspection practices and that she should not have been assigned to the pork plant because of physical limitations.
By the time plant officials were informed by FSIS the following day that the inspections had not been performed, the uninspected carcasses had been mixed with other carcasses, according to a Sioux City Journal report.
Some of the pig meat was rendered into nonedible products, but Tyson Foods, in its suit, claimed losses for the carcasses, cancelled sales, overtime paid to employees working to resolve the situation and other costs. Those losses were estimated at around $2.4 million.
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 did the inspections at the turkey plant, rather than the pork plant.
"This was an unfortunate situation and we appreciate the (U.S. Department of Agriculture) for working with us to address our losses. We take our commitment to food safety very seriously and look forward to continued partnership with the USDA," Tyson Foods said in a statement.