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USDA Extends Swine Plant Line Speed Trial, Introduces Swine Study for Worker Safety Evaluation

Title: USDA Extends Swine Plant Line Speed Trial, Introduces Swine Study for Worker Safety Evaluation

In an ongoing effort to gather comprehensive data on the impact of line speeds in hog slaughterhouses, the USDA has extended its time-limited trial (TLT) under the New Swine Inspection Service (NSIS). This modification includes the incorporation of a swine study, involving on-site visits, interviews, measurements, and observations at both standard and increased line speeds of 1,106 head per hour.

Initially, NSIS had waived line speed limits for participating plants, but a federal court in Minnesota imposed a maximum line speed of 1,106 head per hour in March 2021. In November 2021, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), in collaboration with OSHA, invited NSIS plants to participate in the TLT, allowing higher line speeds while collecting data for evaluating its impact on worker safety.

However, the data collected did not provide sufficient insights into worker safety, leading FSIS to grant a 90-day extension in November 2023 to design a study that would generate the necessary information. The newly introduced swine study is the outcome of collaborative efforts between the USDA, contractors, and participating plants during this period.

To remain eligible for the modified TLT, participating plants must meet the original criteria and actively engage in all aspects of the study. They are also required to submit relevant data and documentation verifying compliance with worker safety agreements. The modified TLT is set to continue until January 15, 2025. A comprehensive report from the study team will be submitted to FSIS, guiding potential next steps, including the possibility of pursuing rulemaking for line speeds in swine establishments.

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