The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA’s FSIS) has announced the extension of time-limited trials (TLTs) allowing certain New Swine Slaughter Inspection System (NSIS) establishments to operate at an increased line speed. FSIS has extended the duration of the swine TLTs until November 30, 2023.

In March 2021, an order issued by the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota vacated the part of the USDA New Swine Slaughter Inspection System (NSIS) final rule eliminating line speed limits for participating establishments. As a result, all NSIS establishments were required to operate at line speeds not exceeding 1,106 head per hour (hph).

FSIS, in consultation with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), developed a TLT that has enabled NSIS establishments to experiment with ergonomics, automation, and crewing to create custom work environments that will protect food and worker safety while maintaining productivity. In November 2021, NSIS establishments were invited to apply to participate in a trial, and six establishments were approved to run TLTs. During the trial, approved establishments have been allowed to operate at an increased line speed for a period of one-year. FSIS has been collecting data throughout the trial to measure the impact of increased line speeds on establishment workers.

FSIS has contracted with a team of worker safety experts to study the impact of increased line speeds on worker safety at poultry establishments. The agency was able to expand the contract to include swine establishments. The extended TLTs will allow the contractors to finalize their report on the swine data, enable the agency to assess the report’s findings and conclusions, and to determine future actions.