© 2024
Virginia's Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Government Considers Loosening Regulations On Hog Processors


The U.S. Department of Agriculture along with the hog industry have proposed more deregulation at hog plants.  If implemented, meat packers would get more authority to police food safety themselves while allowing them to slaughter hogs faster.

The National Pork Producers Council say the changes will increase efficiency and effectiveness at plants.

The USDA agrees that traditional inspection practices have fallen behind food-science and slaughterhouse technology.

But Deborah Berkowitz of the National Employment Law Project, a worker advocacy group, disagrees. "Why are we allowing slaughter plants to police themselves? It’s really the fox guarding the hen house," Berkowitz said.

Right now, the maximum line speed for hogs is just over 1,000 an hour. The new proposal calls for getting rid of speed limits altogether. "You’ll have workers processing more hogs. That will increase injury and there’s a real danger for consumer as well as animal welfare," Berkowitz argues.

After heated requests from consumer groups, the USDA has extended its public comment period for the proposed rule to May 2.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.