Tonight at 6:00pm ET, WSB-TV is airing a news report about the excess use of chemicals at poultry processing plants, featuring an interview with FIC Director Amanda Hitt and USDA whistleblower Sherry Medina. Check out the story preview and watch live here.
Health concerns that have put inspectors like Sherry out of work as a result of excess chemical use are likely to become more serious and widespread under the USDA's proposed changes to the federal inspection system, which include increasing line speeds and handing government oversight duties to the poultry industry itself.
After 16 years of working as a federal meat inspector, Medina was forced to seek early retirement due to serious health issues that she experienced while working at a Tyson Foods plant in Albertville, Alabama. Shortly after Medina arrived at the plant in 2010, the facility began speeding up processing lines and using massive doses of peracetic acid to chemically wash all chicken carcasses. Previously, only birds showing signs of contamination were isolated and subjected to chemical treatment. Two months after the switch to peracetic acid, according to Medina, nearly all of the inspectors started getting sick.
According to Hitt: "This is just another way in which the USDA's plan is a threat to food safety. I'm all for improving inspection, but this plan isn't it. Not only does the plan put consumers at risk, but the threat to workers is now evident."
Sarah Damian is New Media Associate for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.