After it was recently published in the Washington Post that the antimicrobials used in the processing of chicken posed a danger to the respiratory health of the plant workers and inspectors, the National Chicken Council (NCC) defended themselves saying that the chemicals used are thoroughly tested on a regular basis, by the nation’s Department of Agriculture.
Contained in the released statement was the fact that the plants were operating at legal levels and posed no threat to the safety of the chicken for consumption or the workers at the plants. According to the publication however, several sources were mentioned to have raised concerns about the fact that the USDA had not carried out investigations in the antimicrobial use and the associated effects on the workers and inspectors. Investigations into the effects of the antimicrobial use by the Post, found that a number of workers and inspectors had fallen ill as result of exposure to the chemical present in the antimicrobials. They suffered problems with their respiratory systems, including asthma, irritated eyes and sinus complications.
It was further stated in the article that the use of the antimicrobial sprays would rise in order to curb food-borne illnesses as the plants try to process the chicken faster, combined with the fact that there will be fewer inspectors. The NCC however, claimed that it was a misinterpretation of a letter sent earlier to the newspaper, saying that the chemical used would be more under the new regulations, since more products would have to be processed. It went on to include the fact that fluctuations of chicken processed occur solely because of shifts in demand within the market. It also added that the most likely thing that will happen is that the rate of production would increase, since the production time would reduce. It did not mean that more chicken would be processed and neither would more antimicrobials be used.