Georgia is part of the U.S. poultry belt — the area of the country with the greatest concentration of chicken and turkey meat processing plants. Many jobs in the poultry production industry are extremely hazardous. Jobsite injuries and illnesses could be avoided if employers took basic precautions. However, negligent employers who are more concerned about their bottom lines than about workplace safety are the norm.
Negligence in the poultry industry can also put consumers in danger. In fact, Consumers Report published a study that found 97 percent of chicken breasts its researchers tested harbored bacteria that could cause foodborne illnesses.
Recently, the USDA proposed expanding a pilot program called HACCP-Based-Inspection Models Project (HIMP) that shifts responsibility for safety inspections away from the USDA to corporations’ employees. HIMP also allows plants to increase poultry processing line speeds from 140 to 175 chickens per minute and from 45 to 55 turkeys per minute.
Although HIMP may improve the poultry industry’s profits, the program puts workers and the American public at serious risk of injuries.
Sharp tools and heavy equipment used on the fast-moving processing lines place workers at constant risk of injuries. As the speed of production increases, so does the possibility of a worker sustaining a deep cut, puncture wound, crush injury or amputation.
In addition, the increased speeds of production and lack of government oversight mean a diseased bird can more easily slip by the processing workers who are moving at an accelerated pace. The public must then rely upon the internal investigation of corporate employees to detect pathogens before the poultry is sent to restaurants and markets throughout Georgia and across the United States.
Hold the poultry corporations responsible for negligent production practices and policies.