General Health

70,000+ Consumers Say No to Chemicals in Tyson Poultry

Sherry Medina, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) poultry inspector, has collected more than 70,000 petition signatures via a Change.org petition asking Tyson Foods to stop its excessive use of hazardous chemicals in poultry processing.

After 16 years of working as a federal meat inspector, Medina is 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.

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USDA Poultry Inspector Speaks Out Against Hazardous Chemical Use

poultry_inspector_cropAt 50 years of age, Sherry Medina didn’t expect to be on disability, seeking early retirement. Committed to bringing awareness to consumers and others working in her sector, she recently made the courageous decision to blow the whistle on Big Ag's liberal and unrestricted application of hazardous chemicals in poultry processing.  

Like others in her position, Sherry takes pride in her work as a USDA poultry inspector, where one of her primary duties is to protect the public from foodborne illness. But since she became seriously ill as a result of heavy chemical use in the plant where she is stationed, she worries that her days of looking out for consumer wellbeing are numbered.

According to Sherry, the chemicals used in the plant where she inspects poultry have seriously impacted her health. An affidavit she released to GAP (made public last month) details the extent of these health problems, including asthma attacks, sinus problems, and even organ damage. Her failing health has seriously impacted her lifestyle and may have ended her 16-year career as an inspector.

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USDA Whistleblowers: Chemical Use in Poultry Plants a Serious Health Hazard

Today, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) is releasing evidence it has gathered from federal poultry inspector whistleblowers about chemical use in the industry and its health impacts.

GAP is making publicly available affidavits from two U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspectors that illustrate serious health hazards regarding chemical use they observed at multiple poultry processing plants.

GAP Food Integrity Campaign Director Amanda Hitt stated, "The questionable chemical use in the poultry industry is clearly of great concern to inspectors and should be a concern to consumers as well. GAP has been investigating this issue at poultry processing plants for the last two years."

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Prenatal Exposure to Mercury Linked to ADHD: Study

pregnant_womanMercury, along with other toxins in our food supply and surrounding environment, has come under increased scrutiny in its link to the rise of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in American children. CNN reported new research findings that show an increased likelihood of ADHD symptoms observed in kids who are exposed to higher levels of mercury in the womb.

The article details the role of fish consumption in mercury exposure (and why the FDA recommends that pregnant women eat no more than two six-ounce servings of low-mercury fish per week), yet there's no discussion of another concerning source of mercury: high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). According to the most recent data from USDA, Americans eat on average 28.7 pounds of HFCS per year – unsurprising given how ubiquitous the sweetener is in processed foods and beverages at the grocery store.

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Carcinogenic Coke? Ammoniated Coloring in Soda Creates Cancer-Causing Chemical

As the health debate over soda continues, new test results reignite concerns regarding manufactured ingredients commonly used in soft drinks and other processed foods. It was enough that mercury has been found in products with high fructose corn syrup thanks to industrial processing, but now industrially produced caramel coloring (ubiquitous in soda to create a more appealing, dark color) has been linked to a carcinogen known as 4-MI.

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Soda Industry Taking Marketing Lessons from Tobacco?

sodas_attPhoto via wikimedia user MarlithA new series on "Big Food" launched by the Public Library of Science (PLoS) is aimed at examining the influence of the food and beverage industry in global health, and the conflicts of interest at play. The series begins with an article that brings attention to companies' efforts that, according to researchers, distract consumers from the serious health problems linked to their products, mimicking the tactics of tobacco companies.

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Judge Orders Jimmy John's to Reinstate Fired Workers

jimmy_johns_sandwiches_attPhoto via flickr user arvindgroverA food integrity victory surfaced yesterday with the announcement that a federal judge has ordered Jimmy John's to reinstate six workers who were fired last year after campaigning for paid sick days.

FIC has been following the struggle of Jimmy John's employees who have been organizing for worker rights – including the right to prevent customers from eating sandwiches made by sick workers – only to be intimidated and retaliated against by franchise owners Mike and Rob Mulligan for doing it. It's great to see that, once again, the National Labor Relations Board has validated worker voices, requiring that Jimmy John's reinstate those who were fired with back pay (about $10,000 each) within 14 days. (Get a recap of the NLRB trial and the events leading up to it here.)

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