Animal protection, environment groups oppose new pork rules

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Labor, public health, environment and animal protection organizations are asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to reject plans to change the way hogs are slaughtered and processed for meat.

Thirty-five organizations, including Compassion Over Killing, Friends of the Earth and Waterkeeper Alliance, asked Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Tuesday to reject the rules proposed last month.

The rules allow plant employees instead of government inspectors to determine which animals are slaughtered and allow increased line speeds.

The groups say the changes risk increased food contamination, worker injuries, animal abuse and water pollution.

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The USDA says the rules don't risk food safety and improve industry practices, and the National Pork Producers says they increase efficiency, inspection effectiveness and the rapid adoption of new food-safety technologies.

The USDA is taking comments until April 2.