More than a century ago, Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” exposed unsafe and unsanitary conditions in our nation’s slaughterhouses.
Sinclair’s stomach-churning account led Congress to create a new agency in charge of food safety in slaughterhouses. Among the reforms implemented were rules to slow down line speeds so that government inspectors could ensure that diseased or feces-covered meat and poultry did not end up on consumers’ plates. Now, if the Trump administration gets its way, pork slaughterhouses will be allowed to drastically increase their line speeds, with potentially disastrous results for workers and consumers.
A new rule, finalized today, would reduce the number of government food safety inspectors in pork plants by 40 percent and remove most of the remaining inspectors from production lines. In their place, a smaller number of company employees — who are not required to receive any training — would conduct the “sorting” tasks that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) previously referred to as “inspection.” The rule would also allow companies to design their own microbiological testing programs to measure food safety rather than requiring companies to meet the same standard.
Equally alarming, the new rule would remove all line speed limits in the plants, allowing companies to speed up their lines with abandon. With fewer government inspectors on the slaughter lines, there would be fewer trained workers watching out for consumer safety. Faster line speeds would make it harder for the limited number of remaining meat inspectors and plant workers to do their jobs.
The USDA cannot issue regulations that undermine long-standing laws such as the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. Perhaps for that reason, the USDA has gone to great lengths to hide from the public the dangers inherent in this rule.
Fortunately, Congress can still have a say on whether the USDA’s radical overhaul of pork inspection is allowed to go forward.
Call your MoC today and demand NO funding for these rule changes.
Source: The Hill