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The U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued a final rule purported to “modernize” the swine slaughter inspection process, the agency announced Tuesday. However, worker safety advocates argue that the change could make the industry less safe for employees.
The rule includes new requirements for microbial testing and sanitary dressing plans, but it also removes the maximum line speeds that had previously been in place and allows companies to choose whether they will continue inspecting as previously done or via new the newly established New Swine Slaughter Inspection System, known as NSIS.
The change eliminates “outdated rules,” USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a news release. But the Human Rights Watch argued in a blog post that the changes will weaken “inspectors’ ability to slow down line speeds” and that processors may be able to set line speeds as fast as they want, potentially putting workers in “grave danger.”
Slaughterhouse workers suffer injuries more than twice the national average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers who allege they have been victims of discrimination by the U.S. Department of Agriculture have until March 25, 2013, to file claims, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.