The Trump administration is modernizing the pork industry by reducing the number of slaughterhouse inspectors and allowing factories to operate their slaughter lines without any speed limit. It is the first rule change to the industry in over 50 years.

“This regulatory change allows us to ensure food safety while eliminating outdated rules and allowing for companies to innovate,” said U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “The final rule is the culmination of a science-based and data-driven rule making process which builds on the food safety improvements made in 1997, when USDA introduced a system of preventive controls for industry.”

The new regulations require slaughterhouses to develop written sanitary dressing plans and implement microbial sampling to demonstrate that they are controlling and reducing pathogens. The USDA is also establishing a new inspection system called the “New Sine Slaughter Inspection System.”

Consumer advocates worried that the rule, which will save the USDA about $9 million per year, will create gaps in safety because there will be less outside inspection, rather factory employees will take on the additional responsibility of conducting in-house inspections.

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“We call it privatizing inspections,” Patty Lovera, a food industry critic from the nonprofit Food and Water Watch told NPR. She explained that problems are costly, “and to ask company employees to be under that pressure, of pulling product out and costing their employer money, is a lot to ask.”

The Obama administration similarly updated poultry inspection requirements in 2014, but unlike the Trump administration, decided not to raise factory speed limits due to worries about worker safety.

The rule “will lead to an increase in serious and often crippling injuries to tens of thousands of slaughterhouse workers, who already endure exceedingly harsh conditions to provide cheap pork to American consumers,” Debbie Berkowitz, a program director at the National Employment Law Project, and former Labor Department official told NBC. “The Trump administration is rigging the rules against our nation’s packinghouse workers and sacrificing their health to benefit narrow corporate interests.”

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