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Inspectors expose dangerous chemicals in poultry plants

Staff writer |
The Government Accountability Project (GAP) has issued evidence regarding the use of chemicals in the U.S. poultry industry. The evidences points to threat to consumers' health.

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According to the GAP website, two U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspectors have presented affidavits that reveal their observations of dangerous chemicals being used at various poultry processing facilities. The GAP has made those documents publicly available and said they expose the threat these processing plants pose to consumers' health.

Names of the USDA inspectors that produced the affidavits and other information that could allow their identification, have been removed from the documents, the GAP vouched that they are authentic.

Amanda Hitt, GAP food integrity campaign director, said that the organization spent the last two years working on the issue because it had been seriously concerned about the widespread practice of using "questionable chemicals" in poultry production.

The two written statements from USDA inspectors highlighted a number of problems detected in various facilities.

They saw an increase in chemical use when facilities dropped so-called "offline processing", in which contaminated birds are removed from the processing line and are treated separately to get rid of fecal matter and other contaminants, and adopted "online processing", in which contaminated birds stay on the main processing line along with the remaining birds and all of them are sprayed with chemicals against contaminants.

The affidavits reveal that workers in poultry processing plants suffer from continual health problems as a result of being exposed to chemical use for prolonged periods of time. Despite the fact that both workers and inspectors at poultry processing facilities experience health problems, they are reluctant to raise concerns and to report chemical use because they are afraid they might lose their jobs.

Inspectors claimed that the safety reports they filed were either completely ignored, or led to ineffective measures.

The GAP warned that these problems might become even more serious if the USDA's proposal to reform the national poultry inspection system is approved. Under the proposal the processing lines at facilities will move at a faster rate, potentially increasing the risk of contaminated birds passing undetected.

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