SIOUX FALLS, Iowa (AP) — Arkansas-based meat processor Tyson Foods is suing a federal agency for $2.4 million, saying it had to destroy 8,000 carcasses because a federal meat inspector lied about checking hogs at a plant in Iowa.
Yolanda Thompson, who works for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety Inspection Service, signed certificates suggesting she had checked slaughtered hogs at the Storm Lake plant in March 2018, Tyson said. The company noted that video footage indicated Thompson never entered the plant and actually approved the inspections while sitting in her automobile.
Tyson filed suit Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in Sioux City alleging the USDA and Food Safety Inspection Service knew of Thompson's inadequate inspection practices and physical difficulties walking around the plant, the Sioux City Journal reported.
"The United States should have recognized Thompson's unfitness to perform the inspections that were necessary for the protection of Tyson's property. However, the United States failed to so recognize, resulting in the destruction of approximately 8,000 hog carcasses, causing injury to Tyson," the company said in the lawsuit.
Inspectors are mandated to visually examine all hogs slaughtered at the plant to decide whether they have health conditions that could make them unsuitable for human consumption.
On March 26, 2018, Tyson killed roughly 4,622 hogs at the Storm Lake plant, and Thompson gave signed inspection cards to plant supervisors. The lawsuit states that plant administrators were told by Food Safety staffers the next day that Thompson had not executed the inspections. On March 30, 2018, the USDA declared that it was not feasible to determine whether the hogs that had not been checked were subject to any health conditions that would have led to disapproval of the carcasses.
Tyson had no choice but to destroy about 8,000 carcasses, which included the inspected and uninspected, the lawsuit said.
USDA and Tyson officials declined to comment.