This week, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) implemented the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System nationwide. The new rule obliterates all slaughter line speed caps, which means slaughterhouses are now allowed to run the slaughter line at any speed they choose, regardless of the consequences to workers and animals. The rule also transfers many federal inspector duties into the hands of slaughterhouse employees, where there is a vested interest in keeping the slaughter line running at all costs. Nonprofit animal protection organization Compassion Over Killing (COK), among other animal, environmental, consumer, and worker protection organizations, is criticizing the rule which comes at a time when the public demands transparency in the food system. “This rule proves that the USDA is willing to benefit the industry at the expense of animals, workers, and consumers,” Irina Anta, COK’s general counsel, said. “COK’s investigation at a high-speed plant exposed horrible animal abuse, but the agency has chosen not only to look the other way but to completely revoke maximum line speeds nationwide.” In 2015, COK’s undercover investigation at Quality Pork Processors, which is one of the fastest slaughterhouses in the nation under a USDA high-speed pilot program—allowing 1,400 pigs to be killed each hour, or one pig every five seconds—revealed workers beating, shocking, and dragging animals as they struggled to keep up with line speeds, and pigs covered in feces and pus-filled abscess processed for human consumption, all with a USDA seal of approval.

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