Meat/Poultry Inspection

CFA, Food Safety, Labor, Animal Welfare Groups Urge Congress to Require Precautions at Meatpacking Plants

CFA joined a wide-ranging group of public interest advocates in sending the following letter to congressional leaders, asking for measures in the fourth coronavirus relief package that would put a halt to line speed waivers and help to ensure that meatpacking companies protect workers and food safety inspectors. Thousands of workers and over 100 USDA Food Safety and Inspection (FSIS) inspectors have become infected with COVID-19, and at least two inspectors and more than 20 workers have died from the disease. USDA has not used its authority, however, to compel meatpacking companies to make plants safer. Instead, the agency has issued an unprecedented number of line speed waivers, and told companies to defer to local health departments. At the same time, the White House has called into question the judgment of local health departments that might act to shut down plants by issuing an Executive Order that classifies meatpacking plants as “critical infrastructure.”  The letter urges Congress to make clear the responsibilities of meatpacking companies to their workers and the inspectors working alongside them, which will ultimately help to avoid supply disruptions by avoiding more infection clusters and plant closures.