A coalition of groups is filing a lawsuit over the USDA’s rule eliminating limits on processing line speeds and shifting specific inspection tasks from federal employees to plant workers.
In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court on Monday, the United Food and Commercial Workers union and Public Citizen argue that USDA violated federal guidelines by failing to address concerns from public commenters during the rulemaking process.
“Increasing pork plant line speeds is not only a reckless giveaway to giant corporations, it will put thousands of workers in harm’s way,” UFCW International President Marc Perrone said in a statement.
Critics have long warned that lifting the cap on line speeds — 1,106 hogs per hour — will put meatpacking workers in danger and potentially undermine food safety. The USDA has maintained that it will save taxpayers millions of taxpayer dollars, allow inspectors to conduct more crucial food safety checks, and let meatpackers set their line speeds “based on their ability to maintain process control.”
Food Safety Inspection Service predicted that about 40 facilities would adopt the new system. An FSIS spokesperson declined to comment on pending litigation.