In March 2021, a court order issued by the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota vacated the component of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) New Swine Slaughter Inspection System (NSIS) that eliminated 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 as of June 30, 2021.

In November 2021, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), in consultation with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), invited NSIS establishments to participate in a time-limited trial (TLT), during which the establishments have been allowed to operate at an increased line speed while collecting and submitting data that would be used to evaluate the impact of increased line speed on workers.

FSIS contracted with a third-party team of worker safety experts to evaluate the data submitted by the swine establishments. The team of experts determined that the data submitted was not sufficient to evaluate the impact of increased line speeds on worker safety in NSIS establishments. Accordingly, to obtain the data necessary to inform any future rulemaking, FSIS is commissioning a study that will independently generate the necessary data for expert analysis. FSIS will extend the TLTs for up to 90 additional days while the study is being designed by the team of experts.

FSIS will send letters to the six swine establishments with requirements they will need to continue to meet to operate a TLT during the 90-day period, including keeping in place measures outlined in their worker safety agreements. The agency will follow up with additional communication to the public once the details of the study, including its duration, are determined.