The Obama administration is moving closer to changes in the way the US Department of Agriculture oversees the slaughter and processing of chicken. However, the new policy could make eating chicken more deadly.
President Obama’s proposal calls the changes “Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection.”
The new rules would allow chicken processing plants to increase chemical spraying for bacteria and speed up the kill lines slaughtered chickens pass through on their way to packaging. There would also be fewer USDA inspections.
But the combination of fewer government inspections and faster processing lines is made worse by the increase in chemicals sprayed on chicken carcasses, as well as the risks to public health they could cover-up, particularly, Salmonella.
“The U.S. Department of Agriculture is reviewing research showing that new bacteria-killing chemicals used in chicken slaughterhouses may be masking the presence of salmonella and other pathogens that remain on the birds that consumers buy, according to records and interviews,” the Washington Post notes.
Additionally, the chemicals in question have been blamed for illnesses and even death in humans who have contact with them.
A federal investigation revealed that Jose Navarro, a USDA poultry inspector, died after just 5 years of exposure to the toxic chemicals used to kill bacteria on slaughtered chickens.
The USDA claims that speeding up kill lines and laying off government inspectors would “save taxpayers $30 million per year,” and add about $256 million to the profit sheets of the corporate-owned factory farms that have been known to severely abuse the chickens they sell to grocers.
According to PETA:
When they have finally grown large enough, animals raised for food are crowded onto trucks and transported over many miles through all weather extremes, typically without food or water, to the slaughterhouse.
Those who survive this nightmarish journey will have their throats slit, often while they are still conscious. Many remain conscious when they are plunged into the scalding-hot water of the defeathering or hair-removal tanks or while their bodies are being skinned or hacked apart.
“The chicken industry—dominated by Tyson, Pilgrim's Pride, Purdue, and Sanderson—strongly supports the proposal, ”Mother Jones reports.
President Obama’s plan appears to be a “gift” to big agriculture lobbyists, while putting public health at risk. It also indicates that the Obama administration is turning a blind eye to the animal cruelty common in the US food industry.
Saving money no matter what the consequences is usually more of a Republican mantra, but Obama seems to have jumped on board with his right-wing counterparts by using the power of the government to protect and increase corporate profits.