WASHINGTON — After the Washington Post published an article Thursday linking the use of antibmicrobials in chicken processing plants to plant workers’ and inspectors respiratory problems, the National Chicken Council released a statement assuring that these chemicals are safe and tested regularly by the Department of Agriculture.
“When administered properly at the federally recommended use levels, these antimicrobials are safe for poultry products, for consumers and for those working in the plant.”
The Post quoted several sources concerned with the safety of antimicrobials, and said that the USDA has not investigated the effects of these chemicals on plant workers and inspectors.
“In interviews, more than two dozen USDA inspectors and poultry industry employees described a range of ailments they attributed to chemical exposure, including asthma and other severe respiratory problems, burns, rashes, irritated eyes and sinus ulcers and other sinus problems,” The Post wrote.
The Post's sources said faster line speeds at chicken processing plants and fewer Department of Agriculture inspectors will cause processors to use even more antimicrobial sprays to prevent foodborne illnesses because it will be more difficult for inspectors to inspect individual chickens.
NCC said its statement to The Post was mischaracterized in the article: “Ashley Peterson, the National Chicken Council’s vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs, said the volume of chemicals would increase further under the new rules because a larger volume of birds would be processed,” the article stated.
NCC said it is only market demand that controls the amount of chickens processed.
“More than likely it means less production time, not more chickens produced, and not more antimicrobial use,” NCC said.
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