This Thanksgiving, Remember that Safe Food Begins with Safe Workplaces

(This was first posted to the National Council for Occupational Health and Safety blog.)

Guest Blog by Catherine Singley, Senior Policy Analyst, NCLR

Poultry workers

This year, President Obama will carry out the tradition of pardoning the White House Thanksgiving turkey. Indeed, for most of us, the Thanksgiving turkey is the centerpiece of this quintessentially American tradition. That’s why Americans consumers should be alarmed to learn that the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is responsible for ensuring the safety of meat and poultry products, is pursuing a regulatory change that would put consumers and food workers in harm’s way. Under the auspices of improving food safety, USDA’s proposed rule would actually pull government inspectors off of poultry processing lines and allow companies to speed up their production lines.

USDA’s proposed inspection model would allow production line speed to increase from 32 turkeys to 55 turkeys per minute (a 72 percent increase). In chicken plants, the speed would increase from 140 to 175 birds per minute (a 25 percent increase). That’s about one-third of a second to inspect each bird.  Continue reading