Poultry processing regulations causing a predicament for some

JASPER, Ala. (WIAT) — Federal regulators plan to make the most of out of production when it comes to poultry processing.

Opponents say, that plan is plagued with problems.

The recent proposal to speed up poultry processing has become a big deal for poultry plants in Alabama and for families across the state.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) wants to get more chicken processed in a smaller amount of time.

New USDA regulations could increase the line speed from a maximum of 140 birds a minute to 175.

It would take hundreds of federal inspectors off the processing lines.

They would be replaced with plant workers who would have the job of identifying and removing tainted chicken.

Many people are worried the new regulations could make things dangerous for plant workers families who buy poultry products.

Alabama is the nation’s third largest poultry producer with 27 major poultry processing centers in the state.

Congressional leaders and poultry workers say speeding up chicken processing lines could lead to more worker injuries. Some consumers worry it will threaten their overall safety.

Opponents to the USDA’s plan to increase bird inspections from 140 to a 175 per minute argue that meat and poultry workers already make 20,000 or more cuts a day, which could lead to debilitating repetitive motion injuries, like carpal tunnel syndrome or worse.

One woman CBS42 spoke with in Jasper said her friend who works at a nearby plant had his finger cut off while working on the line.

Another person said his ex-wife wouldn’t eat chicken ever again now that she works at that same plant.

These experiences have changed the way they look at the poultry industry.

A recent Southern Poverty Law Center survey of current and former poultry workers here in Alabama found 72 percent suffer from work related illnesses and injuries.

2014 WIAT-TV CBS42

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