meat processing
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Press Release Provided by U.S. Cattlemen’s Association

On March 1st, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS) issued Notice 09-22, which rescinds previous guidance requiring employees at federally inspected meat processing facilities to wear masks while working in the establishment.

In November, the United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) sent a letter to FSIS requesting updated guidance from FSIS that allowed for COVID-19 cognizant rules while not impeding the day-to-day operations of our members’ facilities. In the letter, USCA argued that mask mandates are untenable in processing facilities due to factors related to food and human safety, the design and layout of small and very small establishments, and the working conditions on the slaughter floor.

The letter was preceded by several meetings with FSIS leadership to further explain these barriers to the implementation of mask mandates in small and very small processing facilities.

USCA Independent Beef Processing Committee Chairman Patrick Robinette issued the following statement:

“We are pleased that FSIS is rescinding its mask mandate for federally-inspected processing facilities. There are alternatives to masks, which USCA outlined in its letter to FSIS leadership last year, that can help control the spread of COVID-19 while also contributing to a safe, comfortable work environment.

“Americans continue to seek out U.S. beef to feed their families, and USCA members are eager to meet that demand. Today’s notice will put back into operation several regional processing facilities that were forced to go offline due to the previous guidance. USCA looks forward to continuing its dialogue with FSIS to implement policy that best supports independent producers and processors.”