January 5, 2011
Washington, D.C. – The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) today applauded President Obama for signing into law a new overhaul of our nation’s food safety system, which was passed by Congress last year. U.S. food safety regulations have been sorely in need of updating and this new law makes significant progress by strengthening oversight and consumer protection.
“As the men and women who put food on our nation’s tables, UFCW members across the country make food safety their top priority every day. The updated regulations will without a doubt help them keep our food even safer. However, while today marks a great step forward, there are important food safety issues not covered by this law that Congress must address, including the impact of line speed and worker protection on the safety of our food supply. By guaranteeing worker rights and safety, and by strengthening whistleblower protections, Congress can make our country’s food even safer,” said UFCW International President Joe Hansen.
The UFCW is working to raise awareness in Congress and among consumers about the relationship between line speed and microbiological contamination in food processing plants, and advocating for line speed regulations that will keep workers, and the food they produce, safe. The UFCW also ensures through its union contracts that UFCW-represented food workers are free to speak out if they see something unsafe taking place in their plants, without fear of retaliation or termination.
For more than 100 years, the UFCW has been fighting to improve the working conditions of food workers and the safety of our food, and currently represents more than 250,000 workers in the packing and processing industries. In addition to protecting the rights of food workers, the UFCW is also a founding member of the Safe Food Coalition which consists of consumer groups, groups representing victims of food-borne illnesses, and watchdog groups that are dedicated to reducing the incidence of food-borne illnesses in the United States.