SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Tyson Foods Inc. and Tyson Fresh Meats Inc. filed a federal lawsuit accusing a US Dept. of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) official of falsifying inspections of 4,622 hogs in 2018, forcing the company to destroy 8,000 carcasses. Tyson alleges the inspection issue resulted in $2.4 million in total losses and expenses.
In court documents, Tyson alleges that FSIS inspector Yolanda Thompson, DVM, certified slaughtered hogs at the company’s Storm Lake, Iowa plant on March 26, 2018. However, the lawsuit alleges video footage showed that Thompson did not enter the pre-slaughter holding area to perform an in-person inspection of the hogs. The lawsuit states Thompson remained in her vehicle at the plant and signed the inspection cards.
“USDA-FSIS personnel were aware of Dr. Thompson’s physical limitations and that she had difficulty walking,” the complaint said. “Dr. Thompson’s normal inspection site was the turkey processing plant, a plant that is much smaller in size than the pork processing plant. In addition, the way in which the animals are kept in the pork processing plant requires an inspector to navigate the holding pens.”
Tyson also claimed the “negligently inspected” hogs became intermingled into a group of about 8,000 other carcasses. As a result, all of them had to be destroyed. While the company processed some of the meat into non-edible products, it claimed a loss of $1.85 million for the destroyed hogs, along with almost $315,000 in canceled sales; $213,000 in reduction of normal processing actives while diverting resources in response to the emergency; $51,000 in overtime hours worked; and $50,000 in freight and storage fees.
On Nov. 16, 2018, the USDA denied Tyson’s initial claim for damages which resulted in the current lawsuit. Four counts have been alleged against the USDA and federal government including negligence, negligent inspection, negligent retention and negligent supervision.