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Nebraska Appleseed and Midwest Coalition for Human Rights Mislead Public With Inaccurate Data

Friday, August 31, 2012

Attribute Statement to AMI President J. Patrick Boyle 


“Judging by their claims and outdated data, it appears that the Nebraska Appleseed Center and the Midwest Coalition for Human Rights have put a new date on a 20-year-old press release.


When plotted on a graph from 1991 to the present, the rate of injury and illnesses in the meat and poultry industry looks like a steep ski slope.   In 2010, total recordable injury and illness rates were at 6.9 cases per 100 full-time workers per year.  For perspective, just ten years ago this number was 14.7, more than twice the current rate.  Our rate is only slightly higher than all manufacturing and far lower than dozens of other industries.  A close look at the data over time makes clear that the meat and poultry industry’s worker safety record is consistently improving.


In addition, it is noteworthy that federal Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that the occupational death rate in commercial fishing is 75 times that in the animal slaughtering and processing category.  Similarly, fatalities for logging workers are 45 times higher and fatalities for aircraft pilots and flight engineers are 35 times higher.


While the Nebraska Appleseed Center and the Midwest Coalition for Human Rights make claims about out of control lines speeds in packing plants, the fact is that line speeds must be approved by the U.S. Department Agriculture, whose inspectors are present continuously in plants that slaughter animals.  If inspectors believe that lines are moving too quickly, they may slow them.  Remember, also, that it’s not the speed of the line that matters, but how that line is crewed.


The strong presence of unions in the meat industry is also significant.  According to 2012 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 6.9 percent of private sector workers belong to unions.  However, the United Food and Commercial Workers union previously estimated that it represented approximately 60 percent of U.S. meat packing workers.


As this information and the remarkable and steady improvements demonstrate, worker safety is a top priority for our industry.  It’s unfortunate that the claims made are simply not grounded in the facts.”


For additional information, see this fact sheet on line speeds:  http://www.meatinstitute.org/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/77519


BLS Data for 2010 may be found at this link:  http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/osh/os/ostb2813.pdf


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