N.Y./N.J.: New York's Jungle?

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New York's Jungle? Report: Federal Inspectors Look Into Meat Safety Procedures Probe Practices in New York and New Jersey

(NEW YORK) (WCBS) Federal investigators have launched a probe to see if meat sold out of wholesale markets in New York and New Jersey has been properly inspected. Under particular scrutiny is the 14th Street meat market on Manhattan's West Side where one plant has already been shut down. CBS 2’s John Slattery has the story

Over the last two months, criminal investigators for the Agriculture Department have placed some meat inspectors under surveillance after hearing allegations that the inspectors were not showing up for work, thereby allowing some plants to operate without proper inspection, officials said.

The department's investigators and the Senate's Agriculture Committee are also looking into whether proper procedures were followed last summer during a refrigeration failure at the meat market on West 14th Street in Manhattan.

On Tuesday, the service began sending teams of inspectors from Nebraska into plants in New York and New Jersey to check conditions. The one plant shut down was for rodent infestation.

They have also temporarily reassigned George Puchta, the inspection service's Northeast district manager, pending the outcome of the investigation.

Investigators concerned that some meat products may not be properly handled or refrigerated to ward off harmful bacteria. Despite the probe, several Manhattan dealers said Thursday morning there's been no reduction in inspections.

"I think everone is doing the job,” said Maurice Benous, another dealer in the meatpacking district. “You see inspections every day. I got inspectors before I open up. Inspectors here all day.”

Federal officials told The Times that the investigation is at an early stage, and that there is no evidence showing that consumers had been harmed by tainted meat. Additionally, no charges have been filed, and any conclusions drawn from the investigation could be months away.


-- K. (Infosurf@yahoo.com), March 22, 2001

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