The government is now finalizing the decision on whether or not the plan for speeding and cutting the inspection of poultry should be passed. Originally the plan was proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The poultry industry has been seeking these changes for many years now. The proposed rule wants the speed in chicken processing to increase from 140 per minute to 175 per minute. Given that the speed will increase, the inspection will be reduced. In addition, the number of federal inspector in the processing plants will be cut by a drastic amount of seventy five percent. Another downfall is that if the proposed plan were to be passed, then the slack left from the decrease number of federal inspectors would have to be picked up by company employees that perhaps do not have the same level of training. The proposed plan not only jeopardizes the consumer’s health, but also the safety of the workers. With the high speeds the companies want to have, the probability of injuries, illness, and accidents involving workers can also increase. The increased speed will only make the job more dangerous. As of now the Obama administration seems to be in favor of the proposed rule, in that it is a way to cut cost.
US Plans to Speed Poultry Slaughtering, Cut Inspections, Truth-out.org March 9, 2014
Student Researcher: Jazmine Flores, Indian River State College
Faculty Researcher: Elliot Cohen, Ph.D., Indian River State College
As Americans we trust that all the food in local grocery stores is safe to be consumed by our families, including all dairy and meat products. The ethical problem in this story is that the US may be taking a step forward in cutting inspections of our poultry to increase the speed of the processing. This is an ethical concern in many ways. First it can raise health concerns if dangerous microorganisms were not caught in inspection and then later consumed by consumers. In addition the accelerated speed of processing will jeopardize the safety of the workers, by virtue of being more prone to accidents and injury. Is the idea of quick processing despite increased profits for the companies, really worth putting the health of Americans in danger and the safety of the companies’ workers as well?
It is unethical that the American people have not been adequately informed about the decision to implement such changes in poultry processing. The government should not treat us as objects with no voice. As consumers and US citizens, we should be allowed to express our dissent and have our collective voice heard. Under the new budget proposal by the President, the USDA’s inspection funding will be cut by millions of dollars, even though the proposed plan has not yet been finalized. Federal savings have been estimated to be around ninety million dollars within a three year period. Understandably, there may need to be budget cuts due to the economy, but it is not a good idea to apply those budget cuts to safety requirements of the food industry such as that of poultry. Increasing the speed of slaughtering of poultry can result in mistakes happening during the process of slaughtering, causing infection and contamination. This would lead to health problems and food recalls. As consumers we should not have to bear these health risks.
The proposed budget cuts would also include cuts to the number of federal inspectors employed. This leaves the slack to be taken up by company employees who do not have the same training. This will place the onus on the company employees including creating a more dangerous work environment.
The plan will be finalized, in April 2014. Risking the health of consumers, and worsening the work environment of poultry workers, is not something that should be permitted. Cutting the budget of the poultry industry is unacceptable. Instead Obama should seek cutbacks elsewhere where the health and safety of so many do not hang in the balance.