MINNEAPOLIS – In an update of a federal lawsuit regarding the US Dept. of Agriculture's (USDA) new swine slaughter modernization rule, seven attorneys general have signed on to challenge the agency's line-speed limits.

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, together with Public Citizen filed the lawsuit in October 2019 in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. The plaintiffs said the USDA rules risk worker-related injuries and put the safety of the food at risk by reducing the number of government-employed safety inspectors.

Last year, the USDA published the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System (NSIS). The agency said the changes improve hog slaughter effectiveness, makes better use of FSIS resources, and enable industry innovation by establishing maximum line speeds while allowing processors to reconfigure evisceration lines.

The attorneys general from California, IIIinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia plan to file amicus briefs supporting UFCW's original lawsuit.

Additionally, the National Pork Producers Council and the North American Meat Institute are allowed to file a brief of support for the USDA.

A hearing on the motion for summary judgement and earing briefs is set for Oct. 13.

The UFCW represents about 250,000 workers in the meatpacking and food processing industries and 30,000 workers in pork plants. UFCW members handle 71% of all hogs slaughtered and processed in the United States.

More details on the NSIS can be found here.