Office of Management and Budget Agriculture, forestry and fishing

Despite opposition, USDA poultry line-speed rule moves to OMB

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Washington – The Office of Management and Budget is reviewing a controversial U.S. Department of Agriculture final rule that would speed up poultry-processing lines, a move safety advocates warn could lead to more worker injuries.

OMB, which is tasked with reviewing many agency regulations prior to public publication, received the rule July 10. The reviews are limited to 90 days, but can be extended.

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service’s proposed Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection rule would increase production line speeds by 25 percent. The proposal has been under intense scrutiny since its publication two years ago. Worker advocates contend that increasing line speeds would exacerbate an existing problem of worker injuries on the lines – a position echoed by some members of Congress. Additionally, FSIS was accused last year by the Government Accountability Office of failing to thoroughly evaluate pilot programs used as the basis of the proposed rule.

In response to comments regarding the effects of faster line speeds on worker safety, FSIS said it would address worker safety within its regulatory authority and through coordination with OSHA. Currently, OSHA does not have a regulation related to poultry-processing line speeds.