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Report: Poultry plant inspectors sickened by antimicrobial chemicals

April 25, 2014
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A report from WSB Atlanta detailed the cases of federal inspectors of poultry plants who claim to have been sickened due to exposure to antimicrobial chemicals used in the plants. The report is available at http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/chicken-plant-workers-say-chemicals-sprayed-carcas/nfg73/.

In it, Sherry Medina, an inspector, details how she began suffering from health issues in 2006 after the Tyson plant in Albertville, Ala., where she worked began using antimicrobial treatments in its process.

“This is my morning breakfast,” Medina says, referring to her collection of pill bottles. Medina said her day starts with a regimen of medications and oxygen. “I’ve never had asthma in my lifetime, was never born with it, never had it – was diagnosed in 2007.”

Another inspector, Beth Summers, who worked at the plant with Medina, also stated that her face, throat and chest burns throughout the day.

Medina has filed a lawsuit against Tyson claiming her work environment was “toxic,” she states, “If you’ve got everybody out there with the same problems, respiratory infection, bronchitis, ear aches, sinus infection; when you have these same effects with six people at a shift, it ain’t one putting on.”

“These products are strictly regulated by the USDA and the FDA,” said Mike Giles of the Georgia Poultry Federation. Giles said the anti-microbial washes have a proven track record and the industry goal is to offer the public safe, affordable poultry, adding that poultry companies value worker safety and want employees to notify them if they have any safety concerns.

The report includes an official statement from Tyson, stating in part, “We have procedures in place to make sure food-grade sprays or washes we use for food safety are properly applied. This covers peracetic acid (also called peroxyacetic acid), which is essentially vinegar and hydrogen peroxide.  We also have a staff of health and safety professionals who manage our workplace safety efforts.

“We’re reviewing the recent lawsuit by Sherry Medina, who is part of the meat inspection union that is publicly campaigning against USDA’s proposed changes in the use and number of government inspectors employed in poultry plants,” the company added.

Source: WSB Atlanta

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