New Whistleblower Protections Hope to Improve Food Safety

by Sandy Todd Webster on Feb 01, 2013

Food for Thought

Whether it’s poultry pumped with banned substances, animal cruelty in industrial farming or salmonella in peanut butter, we seem to be hearing more often these days about profound problems within our food supply chain. A recent measure signed into law by President Barack Obama that outlines the strongest federal whistleblower protections in history could change that.

The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives late last September and the Senate last November. This long-overdue legislation overturns many loopholes and provides critically important upgrades to formerly “weak protections,” says a press release issued by the Government Accountability Project’s Food Integrity Campaign (FIC).

The law’s enactment is expected to play a significant role in food safety oversight, as it better protects workers charged with enforcing food safety laws—including U.S. Department of Agriculture veterinarians and inspectors, as well as U.S. Food and Drug Administration employees. The press release further states that over the past several years, FIC has heard from countless federal whistleblowers who desperately wanted to expose food industry wrongdoing or threats to public health, but chose to stay silent for fear that existing whistleblower protections would not effectively shield them from retaliation.

“Strong whistleblower protections mean safer food. This is a huge accomplishment,” said FIC Director Amanda Hitt. “We’re moving in the right direction. Government workers who serve as the public’s watchdog are now themselves safer from retaliation. Federal food safety employees have finally been deputized to protect the food supply.”

Here are a few examples of the types of whistleblowing that are now protected:

  • a public health veterinarian reporting to his or her USDA supervisor that a slaughterhouse repeatedly violated humane handling regulations
  • an FDA inspector exposing falsification of salmonella records at a produce farm
  • a Food Safety and Inspection Service district office manager reporting frequent complaints by poultry inspectors that increased line speeds were making it impossible for workers to pull potentially contaminated birds off the line
  • an FDA researcher reporting that his or her attempts to publish new findings on a controversial food ingredient were stifled by upper management

Hitt says legislation for whistleblower protections remains unfinished:

“The [new act’s] protections only cover federal food employees, and the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act protects corporate workers exposing problems with FDA-regulated products. But USDA-regulated product industry workers still lack protections. These workers—who monitor our beef, poultry, pork and egg products—still cannot safely speak up for the public welfare.”

IDEA Fitness Journal , Volume 10, Issue 2

© 2013 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster IDEA Author/Presenter

Sandy Todd Webster is Editor in Chief of IDEA's publications, including the award-winning IDEA FITNESS JOURNAL, the health and fitness industry's leading resource for fitness and wellness professional...


Trending Articles

Eight Fascinating Facts About Fascia

Fascia has been enjoying the limelight in the fitness industry as one of the hottest topics in recent conference programming, workshops and ...

Nutrition Strategies for Stress and Pain Management

Stress and pain diminish quality of life for millionsofAmericansandcostbillionsin healthcare expenses and lost wages.

Cardio and Creative Core

Group fitness participants can’t seem to get enough of creative core and cardiovascular exercises. If you need innovative ideas to cha...

Wake Up Your Glutes!

It’s a sad fact of modern life that the gluteus maximus, the largest muscle in the body, often becomes inhibited and “turns off.” Ironically, this inhibition can be the culprit behin...

Concurrent Training Can Jeopardize Strength Gains

A lot of people do concurrent training— cardio and strength training within the same session—because it seems to achieve multiple goals at the same time. It’s also a proven fat-burne...

Sample Class: Farmhand Fitness

Several years ago, I attended an IDEA World Fitness Convention™ session led by Michol Dalcourt, director of the Institute of Motion. D...

A Back-Pain Solution

Starting with the basics. Personal trainer Jamal Younis first met 38-year-old Jessica in August 2014. Jessica, a former competitive collegia...

Playing Hurt

When Gray Cook was a high-school athlete, his coaches would comment, “That Gray Cook sure can play hurt.” He had over 20 fractures before he was 18, what with his love of football and moto...

Excessive Thoracic Kyphosis: More Than Just Bad Posture

Excessive thoracic kyphosis (ETK) is a disproportionate forward rounding or curvature of the middle and upper back, also known as the thorac...

Functional Strength Training Combinations

Functional training essentially involves moving the body through different planes of motion while working multiple muscle groups and challenging balance. This Add It Up! strategy includes an upper-bod...