Coalition Opposes USDA’s Dangerous High-Speed Slaughter Program

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Compassion Over Killing (COK) joins a diverse coalition of 35 organizations strongly opposing the imminent nationwide expansion of the US Dept. of Agriculture’s (USDA) controversial high-speed pig slaughter program.

The USDA is now accepting public comments on its proposed rule, which the federal agency has misleadingly titled, “Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection.” Formerly known as “HIMP,” a pilot program that currently has five participating slaughterhouses, NSIS will expand this program nationwide.

Under the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System (NSIS,) food safety inspection will be largely placed in the hands of slaughter plant employees themselves, the number of government food safety inspectors on the line will be reduced, and the plants will be able to determine their own slaughter line speeds.

This proposed rule is a step backward at a time when the public is hungry for transparency in the food industry and when reports show that workers are suffering severe injuries and being denied breaks in the fast-paced environment of slaughterhouses.

In a letter to US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, the coalition writes, “Although proponents have claimed that the high-speed pilot program was designed to ‘yield improved food-safety and other benefits to consumers,’ evidence shows that it undermines food safety and puts consumers in danger.Read the full letter here.

COK’s former undercover investigator, Scott David, worked inside Quality Pork Processors (QPP). This facility is one of the fastest slaughter plants in the nation operating under the pilot program and kills approximately 1,300 pigs each hour. QPP is held up by the USDA as a model example, but COK’s video reveals the horrors hidden behind closed doors — horrors that pigs at slaughterhouses nationwide will face under NSIS.

Our footage reveals workers beating, shocking, and dragging animals to keep up with line speeds, and pigs covered in feces and pus-filled abscess processed for human consumption — with a USDA seal of approval. 

 “Anyone who has seen hidden-camera footage from inside a slaughterhouse knows that allowing these facilities to police themselves goes against common sense and the common good.”

Scott David, former COK undercover investigator

Nearly a quarter of a million people have signed a petition to the USDA calling for an end to NSIS. To demonstrate mounting consumer objections, Scott David will be joined by others to hand-deliver a petition in person to the federal agency in Washington, DC, personally conveying the objections of hundreds of thousands of Americans.

There is also strong opposition to NSIS within the federal government, including USDA whistleblowers and members of Congress.

Even the USDA’s own Office of the Inspector General issued a report in 2013 stating that “since FSIS did not provide adequate oversight, [pilot program] HIMP plants may have a higher potential for food safety risks,” and a 2016 letter from 60 members of Congress to the USDA stated “the available evidence suggests the hog HIMP will undermine food safety.”

“Only the meat industry stands to gain from the USDA’s so-called ‘modernization’ system. It’s shameful, and there is nothing modern about this program that increases dangers posed to animals, workers, and consumers alike.”

– Erica Meier, Executive Director, Compassion Over Killing


TAKE ACTION: YOU can help us put the brakes on cruel high-speed slaughter: Submit your comment today! Use our sample language provided below or write your own.

SAMPLE COMMENT: I’m writing as a concerned American consumer in opposition to the proposed Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection rule, which would roll back progress for animals, consumers, and workers. Under this rule, the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System (NSIS) would place key food safety inspection duties into the hands of slaughter plants themselves, while these facilities operate at dangerously high line speeds, and many problems will likely go unnoticed. Compassion Over Killing’s investigation of a plant under the pilot high-speed slaughter program, HIMP, revealed pigs covered in feces and pus-filled abscesses being processed for human consumption with a USDA seal of approval. The investigation also showed pigs being dragged, kicked, excessively shocked, and improperly stunned as workers struggled to keep up with the facility’s high line speeds. There is widespread opposition to the high-speed slaughter program within the federal government, including by USDA whistleblowers and members of Congress. The USDA’s own Office of the Inspector General stated that the “HIMP program has shown no measurable improvement to the inspection process.” I urge you to protect workers, consumers, and animals and end, rather than expand, this program.

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