Revised Regulations at Pig Slaughterhouses Could Be a Really Bad Idea
The USDA wants to give pork producers more control, which could be dangerous for consumers
Federal inspectors oversee the country’s slaughterhouses to ensure they’re meeting health and safety standards. Now, however, the US Department of Agriculture wants to change the inspection process regulating the nation’s pig slaughterhouses, and, according to Vox, those changes could result in a less safe, largely unregulated system that may put consumers at risk.
The USDA moved forward this week with the new regulations that claim to “simplify” oversight of the slaughterhouses. The proposed revision to the regulations includes two major changes. First, more inspection responsibilities will be given to local plant employees rather than federal agents. According to Vox, these local employees will not be required to undergo any food safety or compliance training, which many critics argue could pose major health and safety risks.
Second, the new regulations call for an increase in line speeds, which will allow plants to slaughter pigs at faster rates and increase slaughterhouse capacity. Critics argue that faster line speeds will lead to less thorough adherence to health and safety standards. In an undercover investigation, animal rights group Compassion Over Killing exposed obvious safety concerns at a slaughterhouse testing the faster line speeds, which has been happening for over a decade as part of a pilot program. A video released by the group shows pigs with wounds and covered in feces being sent down the slaughter line.
Critics have raised concerns that these looser regulations will give too much power to pork plants, essentially allowing them to self-regulate and get away with unsafe behavior that could pose serious risks to consumers.
“All the power gets handed over to the plant,” former USDA hog inspector Joseph Ferguson told the Washington Post earlier this year. “I saw the alleged inspections that were performed by plant workers; they weren’t inspections. They were supposed to meet or exceed USDA standards — I never saw that happen.”
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