According to this report in the Seattle Times, U.S. Agriculture Department health inspectors say poultry-processing plants are increasingly turning to potentially toxic, bacteria-killing chemicals to remove contaminants that escape notice in faster processing times approved last year by the government agency.
This means that rather than actually inspecting poultry for contaminating material like fecal matter, they are upping the use of chemicals to kill off bacteria. Chlorine and peracetic acid are two of the most common. This is causing respiratory distress - possibly death - for workers in poultry processing factories. And it's going on your dinner plate.
While procedures vary among plants, in a typical scenario, high-powered nozzles first shoot water and chemicals into the interior of a bird and along its surface. Next, the bird moves through one or two spray cabinets, where it is showered with other chemicals. Finally, it is chilled and soaked, usually in chlorine and water.
The USDA does not conduct research into possible health risks that chemical treatments pose for consumers of the poultry products. Instead, it relies on the chemical review and approval process of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA also does not research health risk, but relies on data provided by the chemical manufacturers.
Would they obfuscate?
So let's get this straight.
Poultry processing time has increased to as many as 140 birds a minute. Since inspecting them at that speed is impossible for factory workers and USDA inspectors - if they were available, birds are sprayed with an increasingly exotic array of chemicals to remove bacteria. Then they are soaked in chlorine water before packaging in BPA plastic. Finally, no one really knows the short or long-term health effects on consumers.
What could go wrong?
I also write a blog about ways to keep family pets healthy - Aimee's Law. In fact, my attention to my pets' health led me to the benefits of fresh, organic, local, sustainable food.
The conditions that factory-farmed food animals endure before slaughter are bad enough. But giving your Thanksgiving turkey a soak in your swimming pool before cooking is too much. I wouldn't feed factory-farmed poultry to a dog, much less my family.