Recently, states such as New York, Montana, North Dakota, Kansas, Iowa and Missouri have passed laws that seek to outlaw or limit undercover farm investigations that have been dubbed “ag-gag bills” by activists. But there are still many people who refuse to remain silent in the face of animal and human abuse. The Food Integrity Campagin and The Government Accountability Project have this week published a pair of affidavits from USDA inspectors reporting the unsafe use of chemicals in poultry processing plants and their effects on worker safety.
The USDA inspectors observed a rise in chemical use when plants began to switch from “offline processing” to “online processing.” In offline processing, any birds contaminated with fecal matter or had imperfections were taken away from the main line to be treated. In online processing, the contaminated bodies remain on the line with the rest of the carcasses and are sprayed with chemicals such as peracetic acid. Generally, the rise in chemical spraying was not met with adequate ventilation systems or fans.
Both inspectors and workers have experienced ongoing health complications from the uptick in chemical use. Along with increased line speed at which to inspect birds, the reduction of inspectors able to patrol plants, and the legal discouragement from calling attention to such hazards, whistleblowers are becoming more and more concerned over the trend to shift inspection from government entities to the companies themselves.
Images via Flickr user USDA.gov.