June 3, 2020

Food Safety Advocates Want Mandatory Meatpacking Worker Safety

Food safety advocates Food Chain Alliance and the Center for Food Safety filed a petition against the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to implement mandatory meatpacking worker safety. Many employees at meatpacking plants and slaughterhouses  have contacted coronavirus. Some plants have closed because of these illnesses, triggering worries about meat shortages.

Food Safety Advocates Want Mandatory Meatpacking Worker Safety

Center for Food safety states, “OSHA has a duty to issue an emergency temporary standard to protect workers from new hazards that pose a grave danger to health and safety. The COVID-19 pandemic is certainly a grave threat to human health, but OSHA has only suggested that meat companies comply with voluntary safety standards.”

Ryan Talbott, staff attorney at Center for Food safety said in statement, “If these facilities are going to be forced to stay open, then OSHA must implement an emergency temporary standard that protects worker health and safety during this pandemic.” The agency wants OSHA to implement an emergency temporary standard that protects workers during the pandemic.

The rates of infection in counties with meatpacking plants are higher than the rates of 75% other U.S. counties. More than 5,000 employees at these facilities have been diagnosed with COVID-19 infections.

The agencies also said that sick workers are more likely to make mistakes, which makes it more likely that tainted meat gets n store shelves. A major foodborne illness outbreak during the pandemic would be disastrous.

Suzanne Adley, co-director of the Food Chain Workers Alliance said in a statement, “With workers crammed in side-by-side on processing lines, it’s no surprise that meatpacking plants have become incubators for COVID-19. We’re in an unprecedented situation and right now we need OSHA to enforce mandatory protections like paid sick days, handwashing stations, slower line speeds, and 6 feet of space between workers.”

If OSHA doesn’t respond to this petition for mandatory meatpacking worker safety, the food safety groups will try to enforce the law in court.

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