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New Poll: Americans Strongly Oppose USDA Move to Weaken Food Safety at Pork Plants

July 26, 2019 Updated: September 8, 2020

Butcher cutting meat on the Food Processing Plant

As America’s largest private-sector union representing thousands of pork workers, UFCW works to protect the safety of the hardworking men and women at swine slaughter plants as well as the food they pack and process. A new poll released this week shows that a strong majority of Americans agree with us and oppose the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s proposal to weaken food safety standards by eliminating line speed limits and drastically reduce inspections at pork processing plants.

The recent USDA proposal would cut federal safety inspectors at processing plants by 40 percent and would allow the slaughter line speeds to run at any speed the company wants.

Both of these changes would endanger the safety of these workers and the food millions of Americans across the country count on to feed their families every day.

According to the poll from Hart Research Associates, 64 percent of Americans “opposed the USDA’s proposal to eliminate the speed limits on pig slaughter lines.” Opposition was strong across all party lines with 69 percent of Democrats, 66 percent of Independents, and 58 percent of Republicans agreeing that speed limits should remain in place.

Poll respondents in the Midwest, where a large portion of the pork industry is based, expressed even stronger disapproval of the proposal, with 70 percent opposing the proposed changes to plant safety requirements.

Just last month, UFCW President Marc Perrone issued a statement in opposition to the proposal:

“For over 100 years, USDA inspectors have played a vital role in ensuring the safety of our pork. This change to USDA meat inspection rules would dramatically weaken the critical protections that Americans depend on to be able to select safe, healthy food to feed their families every day.

“Shifting the responsibility onto pork workers, instead of the USDA inspectors who are specifically trained for this critical job, is needlessly reckless and dangerous. Our members in pork plants work incredibly hard already and stand with families across the country to demand USDA keep our food safe and let inspectors do their job.”

We stand in agreement with Americans across the country deeply concerned by this USDA proposal that threatens the safety of workers at these plants, as well as the safety of the pork products for consumers in the United States and around the world.

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