Inspectors Say they Became Ill from PAA exposure
Have you seen this story in Politico? Two former USDA workers tell their stories about working with Peracetic Acid. Read the full story below.
Meat inspectors detail harms of chemical exposure
By LIZ CRAMPTON
07/20/2018 10:00 AM EDT
With help from Catherine Boudreau
MEAT INSPECTORS DETAIL HARMS OF CHEMICAL EXPOSURE: Two former USDA food safety inspectors from Utah spoke publicly for the first time about the health problems they suffered while working at a poultry plant owned by a company called Norbest. In an investigation by The Intercept, Jessica Robertson and Tina McClellan said they believe exposure to chemicals, including peracetic acid — an antimicrobial wash used to eliminate pathogens — caused them and other inspectors headaches, nausea, respiratory problems, bloody noses and in some cases, lung damage.
Both Robertson and McClellan, who had worked for USDA for many years, began to file complaints known as Form 4791s about the hazardous conditions at the slaughter facility. While some changes were implemented, including providing supervisors with a “detection meter” to assess air quality, they didn’t resolve the problems. Then, last November, the department notified Robertson that she would be reassigned to another plant about 500 miles from her home. She ultimately resigned. McClellan was similarly reassigned and decided to leave.
Advocating for those who can’t speak out: The two whistleblowers said they felt compelled to speak out for their own sake, but also to defend others. They said many workers at the plant are undocumented immigrants, whose legal status makes them vulnerable.
A widespread problem? Spraying poultry with antimicrobials has been widely adopted in U.S. slaughter plants as an inexpensive way to control bacteria. The practice is banned by the European Union, which has caused a rift in trade relations.
Over the last five years, complaints about chemical exposure at other plants have emerged, according to The Intercept’s report. But neither USDA nor FDA focus on workers’ health or safety when reviewing chemicals used in meat and poultry facilities, and OSHA hasn’t set a permissible exposure limit for peracetic acid.
The Intercept has a more detailed account of this story. To read more click on the link below.