Washington – Poultry workers and officials from 13 nonprofit organizations and unions met with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service on Oct. 16 to urge the department to reject an industry petition to allow faster and unrestricted line speeds in production plants, according to the National Employment Law Project.
In making the current standard – Modernization of the Poultry Slaughter Inspection – USDA determined in 2014, after two years of public comment, that it would not increase production speeds. The original standard had included a speed increase, and it was this particular aspect of the standard that received the most public comment, USDA states. It said in its final ruling that more study supporting the quicker lines was needed before an increase to 175 birds per minute from 140 could be implemented and, according to NELP, there has been none.
The coalition recommends that USDA disregard the request for three reasons: worker safety, animal suffering and consumer protection. The poultry industry has an injury rate two times the national average for all industries and an illness rate six times the national average. It reported 180 severe injuries from January 2015 to September 2016 – the 12th most by industry, and higher than construction, landscaping and sawmills, according to data from OSHA.
Those numbers are from only 29 states (21 states and Puerto Rico report to state OSHA authority)....