JBS pork plant in Ottumwa must hold off on speeding up its lines after federal judge's order


Tyler Jett, Des Moines Register (IA)

Apr 2, 2021


JBS USA will have to pump the brakes.


The meatpacker adopted new federal regulations at its pork processing plant in Ottumwa in March, allowing the company to move pig carcasses through the killing floor faster. But a judge vacated the federal rule Wednesday, requiring the company to return to the old speed limit: 1,106 hogs an hour.


The ruling came in a suit filed by consumer rights nonprofit Public Citizen along with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. Adam Pulver, an attorney for Public Citizen, said that with faster line speeds, companies hire more employees to slaughter more pigs, bunching the workers up along the line.


"The closer you are together, the more likely you are of dropping a knife that will catch someone," said Pulver.


He said the ruling should reduce injuries among workers at pork processing plants…


… According to Erickson's order, department officials said employee injuries were outside the agency's domain. It generally focuses on whether the meat is safe to eat, leaving worker safety to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration...


JBS abiding by department regulations ...


Faster line speeds means more production


Erickson's ruling did not overturn the other key element of the New Swine Inspection System, which decreases the number of USDA inspectors...


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