Injury prevention Food

Lawmakers call on USDA to publish revised poultry-processing rule

Washington – In part because of concerns about worker safety and health, 28 members of the House recently signed a letter calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to publish a revised version of a proposed rule that would speed up poultry-processing lines.

The lawmakers, led by Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and George Miller (D-CA), asked the Office of Management and Budget to direct USDA to publish recent changes made to the proposed Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection rule. The group also asked USDA to open a new public comment period on the rule and to solicit additional comments.

The draft final rule was received by OMB on July 10 and contained “significant” changes following the public comment period, according to the letter from the representatives.

Among other concerns, critics in Congress have raised questions about worker safety because the new rule would allow line speeds to increase by 25 percent, to 175 birds per minute. The increased pace could lead to more incidents among poultry slaughterhouse workers who “have consistently suffered injuries and illnesses at a rate more than twice the national average,” according to an OSHA statement cited in a previous letter from the lawmakers.