The spread of COVID-19 has likely brought to your attention the supply chains within our food industry. Supermarkets look quite different, from empty shelves and limits on items per person, to people lining up six feet apart outside and signs denoting times of next shipments. But less visible are the food processing facilities behind the scenes, which have been hit just as hard by this pandemic.
Meat plants, where animals are slaughtered and their bodies processed, are considered essential and have therefore continued to operate. But rather than adapt and safeguard against the spread of coronavirus, these meat plants are responding to the crisis by either cutting corners at the expense of animal welfare, or maintaining dangerous pre-COVID-style conditions for its workers that can cause infection rates to spike. Animals and humans are suffering.Sign the petition calling on the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to stop approving line-speed waivers which promote inhumane conditions for animals and put employees at risk.
Under the Trump administration
, the USDA has decided that meat production takes precedence over animal and human welfare. Exemptions from regulations known as "line-speed waivers," which are approved by the USDA's Food Safety and Inspect Services, remove any sort of restriction on how fast a meat plant's line can move. The USDA is justifying this on the grounds that facilities closed during the pandemic have created a surplus of livestock shipped to factories that remain open. But the killing and gutting of animals already holds a huge capacity for abuse -- imagine what will happen when workers are rushed even more, killing animals en masse
without any regard for humane handling procedures.
Not only are workers rushed, they are under immense stress. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States, meat plants have become concentrated areas of the disease's spread. In fact, the nation's largest "hot spot" is a facility in South Dakota -- of its 3,700 employees, 16% tested positive for COVID-19.
Employees are scared, sick, and stressed. Many are not provided with proper protective masks, and seldom are workers able to stand six feet apart.
Line-speed waivers also reduce the required number of inspectors on each line, and opens up these positions to untrained employees. These inexperienced workers have less than three seconds to inspect products before they are processed.
This makes it much more likely that hair, nails, or feces will make it into our food.
Animals, meat plant employees, and consumers are all at immense risk all because line-speed waivers create an environment of chaos while placing profitability and productivity above the lives of living beings. Sign the petition today and tell the USDA to stop approving line-speed waivers for meat plants!