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#1 [Permalink] Posted on 4th June 2019 01:00
The Truth About Chlorinated Chicken review – an instant appetite-ruiner

The Guardian
3 June 2019

Donald Trump has come to Britain, and in honour of his state visit, Channel 4 devoted half an hour to something equally toxic that may soon follow in his wake: an invading army of chlorinated chickens.

In Dispatches: The Truth About Chlorinated Chicken, the presenter Kate Quilton travelled to the United States to investigate American poultry production. It was the kind of programme best viewed after eating. You wouldn’t be terribly hungry when it finished.

Chlorinated chicken is an emotive subject, and a slightly misleading one: as disgusting as it sounds, the chlorine itself is not the problem. American chicken doesn’t taste like a swimming pool. Most of it tastes a bit like chicken.

The problem is that the practice of chlorine washing (though sometimes other chemicals are used) is said to be a poor substitute for the hygiene measures that should take place earlier in the processing chain, but, in the US, are not legally required. For this reason, chlorinated chicken has been banned from the EU for 22 years. If and when Brexit happens, the UK may well be obliged to accept chlorinated poultry as part of any separate trade deal with the US. Agricultural exports are a priority for US negotiators – it would be difficult to make an exception for chicken.

EU rules put limits on flock densities and transport times, with a view to preventing the spread of salmonella and campylobacter, both of which can cause food poisoning and possible death. In the absence of such regulations, American poultry processors address hygiene concerns at the end of the process by rinsing all the chicken in chlorine before packing. This kills 90% of the harmful bacteria present in the poultry – the question is whether that is enough. It sounds to me as if it isn’t.

“You don’t need that many bacteria to form an infectious dose,” Professor Bill Keevil from the University of Southampton told Quilton. “Even 10% surviving is a risk factor.” In his lab they have bottles of a branded medium for growing pathogens – called Salmonella Plus. I wonder if we import that from the US.

Indeed, chlorine washing may prevent the detection of contaminants through ordinary testing, because it partially masks the problem. Quilton had no trouble finding a Texas restaurant owner who will swear there is nothing wrong with American chicken – “Not a thing. Superior quality and flavour”. But the numbers speak for themselves: US rates of campylobacter infection are 10 times higher than in the UK. The US records hundreds of salmonella deaths a year; the UK has in recent years recorded none.

Central to the programme was footage shot inside a giant processing plant by an undercover employee. Looking at it, a former EU meat inspector was able to identify several flagrant violations of good hygiene practice and even the plant’s own policies, but there was more sickening stuff on display: a supervisor is overheard talking about “a trend of adulterated product”, by which she means glass in the chicken, and also making reference to a recent “amputation”. To me, the word amputation brings to mind an operation performed by a professional for the good of a patient, and not, as in this instance, some poultry worker losing three fingers in a machine.

One study found 95 such “amputations” over a single year in American poultry processing, making it one of the most dangerous occupations in the US. Debbie Berkowitz, a former chief of staff at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), who now campaigns for employment rights, maintains that the industry is also exploitative: employees, her office found, were routinely denied basic rights, including toilet breaks. “Workers did not want to have to soil themselves,” she said. “So they wore diapers on the line.”

In response to the programme’s investigation, a statement issued by the US Food Safety and Inspection Service offered not just blanket denials, but a kind of breezy contempt: “Unfounded allegations from former OSHA staffers are not credible contributions to this dialogue.”

The whole programme was enough to put you off chicken for a week – possibly for life – but, as Quilton concluded, it was about more than chicken. “It’s about food standards, it’s about worker’s rights, it’s about animal welfare,” she said. It’s also about money: thanks to the less robust regulatory regime, American chicken is a fifth cheaper than its UK counterpart. The chlorine, you get for free.
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#2 [Permalink] Posted on 4th June 2019 07:32
Should not affect muslims as this is haram food, 100% certified halal chicken is only done in UK.
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