FSIS rejects petition to increase poultry line speeds
January 31, 2018
The Agriculture Department's Food Safety and Inspection Service today rejected a petition from the National Chicken Council for a waiver from line speed limits for "young" chicken processing establishments.
FSIS said it already had procedures in place for requests for waivers.
National Chicken Council President Mike Brown said, "While we are disappointed about the denial of the petition, NCC is encouraged that there will be a viable path forward in the near future for those plants operating under NPIS (New Poultry Inspection System) to petition the agency for increased line speeds, if they maintain a record of process control."
"That was the original intent of the petition and we look forward to working with the agency and our members on the soon-to-be-released criteria to apply for such a request," Brown said.
Debbie Berkowitz, senior fellow for worker safety and health with the National Employment Law Project and a former senior official with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, praised USDA for rejecting the petiton, saying that increasing the speeds "would have endangered the health of consumers and the safety of hundreds of thousands of workers."
"The USDA received more than 100,000 comments on this petition, with all but a handful of comments opposed the poultry industry's request," Berkowitz said.
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"Poultry workers already face harsh and dangerous conditions, and there is evidence that the new poultry inspection system is not delivering on the promised public health benefit to consumers."
"NELP calls on the USDA to follow the law and announce any new system for individual waivers in the Federal Register for public notice and comment," Berkowitz said. "Further, the USDA must be open and transparent and publish on its website every request they receive for a waiver of line speeds and make them available for public notice and comment."