Another Obama Decision Reversed? Now It’s About Food Safety.

Citing President Donald Trump’s calls for deregulation, Republican lawmakers and the chicken industry are aggressively lobbying to speed up poultry inspection lines—a change the Obama administration had rejected after warnings it would endanger workers and increase food contamination.

But worker safety advocates fear that revving up line speed will harm plant employees, many of whom are immigrants and refugees already operating under dangerous conditions. Eviscerating animal carcasses requires workers to use sharp tools to make forceful, repetitive motions at high speeds and exposes them to toxic chemicals used to kill bacteria.

“There’s no data to support that this would be safe. And even at existing line speeds, it’s extremely unsafe,” said Debbie Berkowitz, a senior fellow at the National Employment Law Project, a research and advocacy group in Washington.

Poultry workers are almost twice as likely to suffer from serious injuries as workers in private industry, and more than six times as likely to have a work-related illness. Two poultry and meat processing plants, Tyson Foods and JBS/Pilgrim’s Pride, are among the 10 companies with the highest number of work-related amputations and hospitalizations, out of more than 14,000 companies reporting to the federal government, Berkowitz, a former Obama Labor Department official, discovered.

Celeste Monforton, a public health expert at George Washington University, opposes a line speed increase, but anticipates that the industry will ultimately get its way.

“The fact that we had to fight the Obama administration to do this makes it hard for me to foresee success in beating this back,” she said. “The benefits are to the industry, and costs are borne by the workers.”

Read the full article on NBC News.


Notice: Undefined variable: flex in /home/forge/stage.nelp.org/releases/20201128202621/wp-content/themes/nelp/src/views/text/standard-flex-text.php on line 53
Back to Top of Page