Regarding the Aug. 1 Economy & Business article “USDA drops divisive proposal to speed up poultry processing”:
The controversy surrounding the Agriculture Department’s proposal to increase assembly line speeds at poultry inspection plants exposed many of the problems associated with the chicken industry’s dangerous obsession with speed and profit.
Bacterial contamination on chickens starts on the farm itself, where many chickens, selectively bred to grow to heavier weights faster than ever, spend much of their lives collapsed and lying in their own waste, according to research the ASPCA compiled. This means they bring more fecal matter to the slaughterhouse with them, posing food safety risks.
It’s good that the new rule doesn’t speed up processing lines for most chickens, but the status quo is still in need of drastic reform. Nearly 1 million birds were boiled alive last year on lines that moved too fast for workers to keep up. It’s time to stop pushing animals and workers past their physical limits. Bigger and faster is not always better when it comes to raising animals.
Suzanne McMillan, New York
The writer is senior director of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ farm animal welfare campaign.