Online Program

Poultry plant deregulation: Impacts on workers and consumers

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 1:00 p.m. - 1:15 p.m.

Patty Lovera, MS, Food and Water Watch, Washington, DC
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is pursuing a plan to privatize food safety inspection in poultry slaughter plants and allow line speeds to increase dramatically. The agency is currently allowing some poultry plants to participate in a pilot project with this inspection program, which allows line speeds upwards of 200 birds per minute, compared to 35 birds per minute allowed under traditional inspection.

An analysis of the pilot program found that a high rate of defective and unsanitary poultry contaminated with feces, bile and feathers got through the safety checks done by company employees instead of USDA inspectors. In addition to risks posed to consumer safety by this change in inspection procedures, the proposed increase in line speeds poses a critical threat to the safety of poultry plant workers.

The proposed rule to change poultry slaughter inspection is opposed by Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Council of LaRaza, the American Public Health Association and Nebraska Appleseed. In May 2012, the American Public Health Association called on USDA to assess “the grave consequences of the regulatory change to front-line poultry workers” and noted that even a “cursory review of the public health literature” would have demonstrated that linespeeds in poultry plants should be slowed, not increased. This presentation will provide an update on the status of USDA's proposal to change the poultry slaughter inspection program and the results of USDA data collection on potential health impacts on poultry plant workers.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Identify the risks posed to poultry plant workers by a proposed regulatory change that would allow increased line speeds in poultry plants. Explain the connection between food safety inspection and occupational safety in poultry plants.

Keyword(s): Occupational Injury and Death, Food Safety

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the food policy program director for the consumer advocacy organization Food & Water Watch, and have tracked and advocated on meat inspection and food safety issues for over a decade. I have a bachelors degree in environmental science and a masters degree in environmental policy.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.