Myth: Line Speeds At Meat Plants are Solely Determined by a Company


When many people think of line speeds in a plant, many people imagine scenes Lucy and Ethel in the chocolate factory from the show “I Love Lucy” where the mere turn of a knob could speed the line at the discretion of a plant manager. But this bears no resemblance to practices in the meat industry. USDA regulates how fast lines can be operated based upon line staffing – of both inspectors and work crew. USDA inspectors, present at all times in plants, can reduce line speeds if they believe they are not staffed sufficiently to ensure compliance with federal food safety and animal welfare rules.

Further, meat companies benefit when line speeds are set appropriately to ensure optimal animal welfare, worker safety, food safety and food quality results. Appropriately staffed lines ensure safety and their speeds cannot be increased without agreement by USDA inspectors and increased staffing.