Politics | August 15, 2020 3:05 pm

Trump Administration Could Relax Health Restrictions on Chicken

There's some worrying news abut what kinds of poultry will be considered acceptable.

Some Experts Say US Could Face Meat Shortages Within Weeks
A woman shops in the chicken and meat section at a grocery store, April 28, 2020 Washington, DC.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

There’s a very good reason why people have spent a lot of 2020 talking about Upton Sinclair’s classic book The Jungle. Factory farming has sparked several controversies since the pandemic first began, most notably with the information suggesting that the close quarters of meatpacking facilities contributed to the spread of the disease. More recently, questions have arisen around whether or not COVID-19 can be spread via frozen chicken.

Now comes the latest worrying news about meat, this time via Bloomberg article by Amanda Little. Little writes that, especially in the last few months, the Trump administration has been deregulating the meat industry. When it comes to chicken, this has taken a particularly unpleasant development:

In July the FSIS approved a petition from the National Chicken Council requesting that slaughterhouses be allowed to process broilers infected with Avian Leukosis — a virus that causes chickens to develop cancerous lesions and tumors. Inspectors would no longer be required to examine the first 300 birds of each flock for signs of the disease, and processors would be able to cut off tumors and lesions and then process the rest of the bird.

Writing at Esquire, Charles P. Pierce was succinct in his take on this news. “The meatpacking industry, which wasn’t exactly overburdened by health and safety regulations to start with, now has permission from the Department of Agriculture to feed us sick chickens.” Pierce wrote.

According to the Bloomberg article, the rule change regarding Avian Leukosis is currently awaiting a decision from food safety administrator Pail Kiecker. Could it lead to a less healthy dining experience — or more people adopting a plant-based diet? Stay tuned.

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