Advocacy groups Agriculture, forestry and fishing Injury prevention

Coalition continues push against proposal to increase poultry-processing line speeds

Atlanta – As the nation prepares to cook millions of turkeys in recognition of Thanksgiving Day, a coalition of worker safety and consumer advocates once again have voiced their opposition to a proposed Department of Agriculture rule that would speed up line speeds at poultry-processing plants.

The proposed rule would increase the maximum number of turkeys going down the line to 55 per minute from 32, said Catherine Singley, a senior policy analyst for the National Council of La Raza, during a Nov. 21 conference call with reporters. Maximum line speeds for other birds – including chickens – would increase to 175 from 140.

“Faster line speeds would have devastating effects” on worker safety, Singley said, noting that current line speeds already lead to injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

The coalition also called on OSHA to regulate line speeds.

On Thanksgiving, 45 million turkeys are consumed each year, according to the University of Illinois Extension.