January 19, 2018

USDA Publishes Final Poultry Slaughter Rule

On Thursday, July 31, 2014, the USDA published the final rule of the Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection, the highly controversial change in poultry slaughter plants that food and worker safety advocates deplore. That rule removes USDA inspectors from plants and replaces them with company employees, and increases slaughter line speeds from 140 birds per minute to 175. There was one change before the rule was released; the government decided to keep the maximum line speed at 140 birds per minute.

USDAThe rule does require microbiological testing and establishes the New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS). Unfortunately, corporations can decide for themselves whether or not to participate in NPIS.

Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter said in a statement, “today, the USDA released the final rule that will transfer most poultry inspection from government inspectors to the companies so they can police themselves. With the poultry industry standing to gain financially due to increased production and fewer regulatory requirements, this plan is a gift from the Obama administration to the industry, one that will undermine consumer and worker safety, as well as animal welfare”

Center for Science in the Public Interest‘s Caroline Smith DeWaal added, “in its desire to save some nine million dollars next year, the USDA missed the boat on designing a scientific approach to modernizing poultry inspection. With more than 600 people sick from the Foster Farms outbreak alone, this is hardly the time to reduce USDA’s oversight of the poultry industry.”

Industry applauded the move. Joel Brandenberger, National Turkey Federation President said, “USDA is to be commended for standing up for food safety in the face of significant pressure.” This new rule will save corporations at least $260 million every year.

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