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October 15, 2012
Groups oppose rule change in poultry slaughter practices

A coalition of 23 groups and 16 individuals has urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to withdraw a proposal that increases poultry processing plant line speeds and removes hundreds of federal inspectors from plants.

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Coalition members include labor, civil rights, and public health groups, including the AFL-CIO, Consumer Federation of America, and Center for Science in the Public Interest.

They say the USDA proposal would increase poultry line speeds to an unsafe level, would allow plant employees to replace federal inspectors for certain activities, and would reduce the overall number of inspectors at poultry plants.

According to a statement, “Specifically, the coalition is alarmed by the proposed increase in poultry slaughter line speeds to 175 birds per minute, a fivefold increase over current speeds.” They say faster line speeds would contribute to higher rates of repetitive motion injuries among poultry plant workers.

The coalition points to food safety risks as well, with inspectors having only a third of a second to examine each chicken carcass.

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