For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Contact: 

Jackie Filson, jfilson@fwwatch.org, 202-683-2538

USDA’s Dangerous Plan to Privatize Hog Slaughter Inspection Moves Forward

WASHINGTON - Today, the USDA’s plan to privatize food safety inspection in hog slaughter plants has moved one step closer to becoming reality. On Friday, the Office of Management and Budget finished its review of the final rule and sent it back to USDA for final publication in the Federal Register. While the OMB may have made some changes to the rule, we know that the rule will result in fewer USDA inspectors on hog slaughter lines and company employees performing critical inspection tasks.  

Privatization of hog slaughter inspections would remove up to 40 percent of trained inspectors from slaughter lines and replace them with company employees who are not required to be trained. This rule would also remove the cap on how fast slaughter lines can run. Now that the rule has been reviewed by the White House, USDA could publish a final rule at any time.

In response, Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter issued this statement: 

“The driving force behind USDA’s plan to privatize inspection in hog slaughter facilities is to reduce the number of government inspectors and to push the pork industry’s goal of increasing their line speeds. 

“Removing government inspectors while increasing line speeds is a recipe for disaster. The House included a requirement in the USDA FY 2020 budget that the USDA’s Inspector General conduct a full review of the data that went into the proposed rule. The provision states that USDA must not finalize the rule until this review is completed and issues raised are addressed.  

“An overwhelming majority of Americans—in all parts of the country and across party lines—oppose this change to inspection in pork processing. National polling reveals that by an overwhelming 28-point margin (64% to 36%), Americans opposed the USDA’s proposal to eliminate the speed limits on pig slaughter lines. Current law limits line speeds to 1,106 pigs per hour; the USDA proposal would remove all speed limits.

“A stunning 70 percent of Midwesterners—those closest to the pig slaughter industry—opposed this proposed change. By an even larger margin – 73% to 23% -- consumers in this poll rejected reducing the number of USDA inspectors on hog slaughter lines and turning over inspections for the companies to do themselves. The opposition was uniform across all demographics and political affiliations.

“It is unacceptable to put public health, worker safety and animal welfare at risk so that the pork industry can run faster lines and avoid government inspection,” said Hauter. “We urge the USDA to withdraw this rule and fulfill its duty to protect food safety.”

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Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.

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