Speed Killing, Pigs Conscious During Slaughter, and Injured Meatpacking Workers Coming as Trump Administration Turns Inspections Over to Corporations

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Pigs for Slaughter

The Trump Administration’s promise to deregulate is putting food safety and workers at risk. In 2019, the USDA released their proposal to remove the 1,000 kill-per-hour speed limit at slaughterhouses and also allow companies to replace federal inspectors with their own employees.

“According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, meatpacking workers experience injury rates nearly 2.5 times higher and an illness rate almost 17 times higher than the average for all industries. Forcing workers to process the animals faster will only exacerbate these problems, while increasing the risk of contaminated pork being introduced into the U.S. food supply,” published The Humane Society.

They also referenced an incident in Coldwater Michigan where an employee tasked with food safety inspections failed to identify a hog that was dead before slaughter.

Less USDA oversight and unlimited kill-speeds are likely to result in more work injuries and occurrences of abuses such as what occurred this summer in Kentucky. According to a notice sent from the USDA to Wise Meat Packing.

“On August 19, 2020, while performing the Humane Handling Verification Task under HA TS Category IX Conscious Animals on the Rail at Wise Meat Packing Co., an initial electric stun to the poll only was delivered at 07: l SAM rendering the animal insensible to pain, the hog was stuck, and thereafter regained consciousness, and stood up on all fours. Immediate and effective corrective actions were administered with a 410 shotgun which rendered the animal insensible to pain. The chute was rejected with tag number B31985704.”

NBC News reported, “The rule “will lead to an increase in serious and often crippling injuries to tens of thousands of slaughterhouse workers, who already endure exceedingly harsh conditions to provide cheap pork to American consumers,” said Berkowitz, a program director at the National Employment Law Project, a research and advocacy group. “The Trump administration is rigging the rules against our nation’s packinghouse workers and sacrificing their health to benefit narrow corporate interests.”

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Fact Quotes

Several food safety lawyers, Democratic members of Congress, and a former agriculture official say that the USDA is using sleight-of-hand tactics to get around legal mandates that have been in place for more than a century. Those mandates require federal regulators to inspect — and either pass or condemn — every live hog that arrives at a slaughterhouse and every hog carcass on the slaughter line.
Washington Post

The agency estimates that the change will reduce the total number of USDA inspectors at pork plants by 40 percent.
NBC News

The USDA proposal removes many trained, federal inspectors at slaughter plants, and instead turns the inspections over to company employees, who are under enormous pressure and vulnerable to firing if they flag problems.
Humane Society