12 February 2005

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Your Feb. 6 editorial "What Meat Means" indicts the United States meat industry in an outrageous manner.

Worker safety guidelines developed in 1990 by the American Meat Institute, in collaboration with government and union officials, have reduced injury and illness rates by two-thirds. Days lost due to work-related injuries dropped 220 percent.

Line speeds are a function of engineering assessments that assure that tasks can be safely performed in a prescribed period of time. That injury rates have been declining for a decade demonstrates that staffing levels are appropriate.

Meat packing has been a gateway industry for new Americans. That's because meat jobs pay more than twice the minimum wage and offer generous benefits, making these jobs highly desirable.

Department of Agriculture data show that bacteria on meat and poultry have declined substantially over the last decade. Those gains would not be possible if our systems are antiquated, as your editorial suggests.

J. Patrick Boyle
President and Chief Executive
American Meat Institute
Washington, Feb. 8, 2005

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