The Department of Agriculture (USDA) has denied a request by the National Chicken Council to allow for faster processing line speeds in packing plants. The decision follows a petition from NCC asking for young chicken plants to be exempt from the 140-birds-per-minute maximum line speed under the New Poultry Inspection System.
USDA says the petition asked for no line speed limit, while industry data suggests speeds can be safely maintained up to 175 birds per minute, according to meat industry publication Meatingplace. However, rather than casting a net for a broad waiver, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told the International Production and Processing Expo that USDA would consider individual request, by company or plant, if that request is backed up by safety data.
Perdue said: “We want you to be as efficient and effective as you safely can be in operating your businesses,” adding: “Some of you can do that, some of you cannot.”
USDA says the agency received about 100,000 comments on the issue.
The opposition says workers in processing plants are already working at a “breakneck speed.”
From the National Association of Farm Broadcasting News Service.