A new proposal that is being pushed up in the United States Department of Agriculture is one that could make workers in the hog industry a little more scary. The rule that is being proposed is one that would get rid of the speed limits placed on the lines in hog processing plants. This could endanger the workers in these plants as well as consumers.
The USDA has high hopes of modernizing the hog industry. The hog processing plants already run at a very swift place, some process up to 1.106 hogs per hour. The hope of the rule is to speed up production pace in these plants through faster lines, and the allowance of employees to become responsible for some oversight duties that currently are being handled by USDA inspectors on the kill lines. The line speeds already move fairly quickly, in fact, employees already face some health risks due to it and with faster line speeds, there could be a much higher risk of hazards like amputations, carpal tunnel syndrome, and musculoskeletal injuries. Currently, these USDA inspectors have to examine each animal that comes down the line, they check for any illness in the animal and fecal matter that is visible. The new rule would remove that inspector an allow the employees of the factor to check the hogs, federal inspectors would then get to look at them much later. This could place consumers at a much higher risk because the meat won’t be checked quite the same way which means more diseased hogs or fecal matter could slip through.
While some are less thrilled, lobbyist look as this as a gift to the hog industry. It does, after all, have the potential to increase the bottom line. This would not be the first time a change like this has occurred. Under President Obama, the USDA approved a very similar plan for poultry plants, however, they were immediately slammed with pressure from the media and activists and decided to not allow plants to speed up slaughter lines.
While it is clear that not everyone is looking forward to this change, some people in the hog industry are because it will raise their profits. Prior to the rule coming into full effect, the USDA accepts comments from the public and will hear any concerns for sixty days, which will end sometime in mid March. For the full story on this rule and all the benefits and risks associated with it, head to the Huffington Post.