Poultry processing workers and food safety inspectors are being doused with chemicals in the name of food safety. A slew of antimicrobial agents are approved by the USDA to be used on meat and poultry. The chemicals are considered edible for consumers, but no assessments are made by USDA (or other agencies) on the health risks to workers.
The problem now has the attention of some Members of Congress. Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and others sent a letter last week to USDA Secretary Vilsack, HHS Secretary Burwell, and Labor Secretary Perez. They expressed “deep concerns” about the chemicals’ effects to poultry and meat workers:
“PAA is widely used…as part of an antimicrobial intervention system yet the chemical has been shown to cause severe adverse reactions to plant workers including: rashes, burns, destruction of the eye tissue, difficulty breathing, and inflammation of the respiratory system.”
The lawmakers note the connection between USDA’s conversion to its “modernized poultry inspection system” to an increase use in these chemicals..