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Tyson Foods Suit Alleges Federal Food Inspector Neglected Pre-Slaughter Inspections In Storm Lake

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Photo by Amy Mayer

Tyson Foods and Tyson Fresh Meats have filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa claiming a federal food safety inspector fabricated her inspection for thousands of hogs.
Attorneys for Tyson claim that U.S. Department of Agriculture food safety inspector Yolanda Thompson failed to inspect more than 4,600 hogs at Tyson’s Storm Lake plant, which is required before slaughter. According to court documents, these inspections determine if the hogs can be slaughtered, need further inspection, or need to be condemned.

Court documents say Thompson signed inspection cards on March 26, 2018, confirming she had performed an inspection. But video footage later showed she never went into the pre-slaughter holding area to inspect the hogs. The complaint says Thompson stayed in her vehicle and signed the cards.

Tyson was told a day later that the hogs had not received proper inspections before they were slaughtered. Because the hog carcasses had already been mixed in with thousands of others, and it was hard to tell which had not been inspected, Tyson had to destroy around 8,000.

Tyson was able to turn some of the meat into non-edible products, but claims it lost almost $2.5 million in all for the condemned pork, cancelled sales, storage fees, overtime pay and through diverting some resources to take care of the situation. The company is asking the court for that amount in damages.

The complaint alleges that USDA Food Safety Inspection and Inspection Service staff were aware that Thompson had bad inspection habits and had difficulty walking. Attorneys allege negligence and negligent supervision.

"If the USDA and/or FSIS personnel adequately trained and supervised Dr. Thompson, or otherwise addressed Dr. Thompson's deficient inspection practices and her health issues, the damage to Tyson could have been avoided," the company said in the complaint.

Both the USDA and Tyson declined to comment.