Pork industry hails USDA's move to extend inspection line speeds

Feb 29, 2024

By Farms.com

The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has extended the New Swine Inspection System line speed trials to January 15, 2025. This decision reflects ongoing efforts to enhance processing efficiency while addressing concerns about worker safety. 

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) has been a vocal supporter of increased line speeds since 2019, advocating for changes that would significantly raise national harvest capacity. The FSIS's decision to continue these trials, including a focused study on the impacts on worker safety, has been met with approval from industry leaders. 

Increased line speeds were initially tested in six pork packing plants in 2021, with the dual aim of assessing productivity gains and understanding potential safety implications for workers. The positive feedback from these initial trials led to the recent extension and the inclusion of a comprehensive worker safety study. 

Economic analyses highlight the critical nature of these trials, suggesting that without the ability to process pork more rapidly, producers faced the risk of considerable financial losses. The extension of the trials is seen as a vital measure to prevent these losses, which could have reached nearly $10 per head in the early months of 2024. 

The NPPC's ongoing engagement with the FSIS underscores the trials' significance for the future of pork processing. By pushing for the expansion and permanence of increased line speeds, the council aims to secure a more resilient and efficient supply chain, benefiting both producers and consumers while maintaining a focus on safety.

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