Last winter the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed allowing pig slaughterhouses nationwide to operate without speed limits. Some limitations on how fast facilities can kill pigs do currently exist, but this proposal would eliminate these minimal protections, essentially allowing facilities to run as fast as they want—and kill up to 1,300 pigs per hour in the process.
Undercover investigations and documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests have revealed alarming animal welfare problems at pig slaughter plants that have been testing out this method. These problems include rough handling and improper stunning of pigs before slaughter, putting more of these animals at risk of being brutally slaughtered while still conscious. Making this proposal even worse is that it turns over essential functions and decisions to the slaughterhouses themselves. Without proper government oversight, risk of foodborne illness and worker injury can increase.
The proposal faced immediate backlash, even before the USDA opened a two-month public comment period that ended Wednesday, May 2.
The ASPCA has fought the proposal alongside a wide range of worker safety, consumer health, and food safety organizations. Recently, the ASPCA published a joint op-ed with the National Employment Law Project on the proposal’s dangers and its potential impact on both animals and consumers.
“The proposal is yet another misguided attempt at privatization of slaughter to the great detriment of animal welfare, worker safety and food safety,” said Suzanne McMillan from the ASPCA’s Farm Animal Welfare Campaign. “We urge the USDA to consider the potentially disastrous consequences if this rule were enacted and heed the calls to withdraw it completely.”
We are pleased to report that by the close of the comment period, 39,263 ASPCA animal advocates spoke out by submitting comments to the USDA in opposition to this inhumane proposal that puts pigs at risk of increased terror and pain in their final minutes of life. We want to thank all of you who took action on this important issue!
We still need your help! If you haven’t yet, please consider joining the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade for updates on this and future animal-related policy battles. We need your voice!