Poultry Inspection: a Deadly Duty

1workers1.JPGA harrowing story in the Washington Post details the sad demise of Jose Navarro, a federal poultry inspector who died from lung complications at just 37 years old.

Navarro's death triggered a federal investigation into poultry facilities that have increased the use of toxic, antibacterial chemicals. Such chemicals help eradicate contaminants that have increasingly slipped by inspectors as production line speeds have accelerated over the years. The US government is trying to determine whether, and to what extent, Navarro's death was hastened by dangerous agents he was exposed to on the job.

Another disturbing reality of US poultry inspection is the USDA's new guidelines for factory-scale slaughterhouses. Under the old plan, four inspectors were assigned to lines killing 140 birds per minute. But now, only one inspector is appointed to over 175 birds per minute. That means three fewer inspectors for a line that's running 25 percent faster.

Undercover investigations have revealed birds in slaughter facilities having their throats slit while still fully conscious, partly due to high-speed production lines that lead workers to improperly stun some birds and to miss others altogether. More birds are certain to suffer this awful fate with an increased speed of production.

Add to all of this the FDA's most recent findings that 81 percent of raw, ground turkey and 39 percent of chicken is contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and you have the perfect recipe for disaster.

The death of Jose Navarro is not only heartbreaking, but also draws attention to the fact that factory farming victimizes both humans and animals. Thankfully, there is something we can do about the industry's cruel and exploitative practices every time we sit down to eat. Switching to a healthy, vegan diet has never been easier. For more information on going veg, visit ChooseVeg.com. For restaurants in your area that offer vegan options, check out VegGuide.org.