Avian Leukosis In Poultry
If the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that a virus can strike anyone, at any moment, anywhere. But for poultry–processing workers, contracting a cancer-causing virus has been a job risk for more than a century.
The avian leukosis virus, according to this NutritionFacts video, is among“… the most potent cancer-causing agents known and can induce cancer in poultry in a matter of…days.”
And now, thanks to efforts by the National Chicken Council’s money-saving efforts, the risk of eating avian leukosis-infected meat just increased.
This past March, the NCC petitioned the USDA to allow its inspectors to pass chicken carcasses displaying the lesions associated with the disease,
Instead, they suggested, the ulcerated bits just be trimmed away and the mutilated birds sent on down the line.
On July 20, they got their response from Assistant Administrator Rachel Edelstein of the USDA’s FSIS Office of Policy and Program:
“After careful consideration, FSIS has decided to grant your petition. We have determined that current scientific evidence supports treating avian leukosis as a trimmable condition and that the actions requested in your petition would reduce regulatory burdens on the industry.”
With this ruling, the FSIS (Food Safety Inspection Service) is essentially telling consumers, “Virus spots on Mom’s fried chicken? Don’t upset her — just trim them off and keep chomping away!”
And that’s in addition to their ignoring the reality that eating a quarter of a chicken breast daily is already associated with a doubling or tripling of lymphoma risk.
Will their line-trimming policy really keep us safe?
Well, poultry line workers are now expected to process nearly three birds per second. The carcasses go by in a blur, making it extra difficult for the underpaid and overworked employees to see the ulcers.
Given such conditions, it seems likely that the amount of virus-contaminated chicken reaching our food supply will rise.
More disturbingly, Dr. Greger says, “… some of the highest levels were found in… the line workers that cut up the final product.”
The final product! Right before it hits our plates. Our food is not getting safer, but who’s going to fund further research on eating infected chicken?
I know one thing: It won’t be the National Chicken Council. They will pocket more cash, while chicken lovers eat more avian leukosis.