A major food workers union praised President Joe Biden for repealing a rule that would have permanently allowed US poultry producers to kill more chickens per minute. Industry trade groups said speeds were safe.
Donald Trump's administration had pushed for the rule in recent days to increase the potential slaughter of chickens from 140 to 175 birds per minute. Just three days after Trump lost his re-election in November, the U.S. Department of Agriculture had submitted her proposal to speed up chicken lines by 25%.
Critics have said that increased line speeds, already present in some exempted factories, increased the already high incidence of injuries to meat manufacturers as well as potential Covid-19 infection rates. Social detachment would require fewer workers on each line, meaning it takes longer to process the animals.
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union backed Biden's move, while the National Chicken Council and North American Meat Institute trade groups said factories operating at higher speeds were safe and effective.
"This policy change is a critical step in putting worker safety above industry profits as these factories continue to face increased risks as Covid-19 cases are on the rise nationwide," said the UFCW, who Represents 1.3 million workers in food factories, supermarkets and other fronts. line industries, it said in a statement Monday.
The National Chicken Council said not allowing the increased line speeds is ignoring science.
"The modernized system has been thoroughly studied, discussed and revised over 25 years to ensure its effectiveness in further modernizing the chicken inspection while improving food safety and protecting workers," Ashley Peterson, senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs of the NCC, it said in a statement. "While the poultry industry has been safely increasing line speeds for the past 25 years, our injury and illness rate has fallen 86% and is now at rock bottom."
The Meat Institute said it is common for a new administration to withdraw proposed rules so they can be revised.
"In this case, FSIS will have enough data from decades of experience to show that sites can operate at line speeds of up to 175 birds per minute while maintaining exceptional food and worker safety standards," Sarah Little, a NAMI spokeswoman, said in a statement.
– With the help of Mike Dorning.
Copyright 2021 Bloomberg.
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