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Behind the scenes of the fight for the protection of animals and workers and the preservation of the environment - my experiences as a Tyson slaughterhouse hanger/killer turned activist. Exposing the evils of factory farming, by Virgil Butler. If you have arrived here looking for the Tyson stories, view the early archives. Some of them are now featured on the sidebar for easy searching.
Tuesday, September 09, 2003
was in that chicken you were eating?
There is a lot of processing that
goes on before the chickens go out
the door to be sold in KFC's buckets.
Needless to say, with this many jobs,
this many activities going on, there
will be mistakes. Some things get
missed. Even when people do their
The evisceration (front) line has
running beside it another line called
a clean-out line. That is where all
the birds that are rejected on their
first pass by the USDA inspectors
are sent to be reworked.
This is the story about what happens
there. And I think you will see that
it is the perfect breeding ground for
the sort of incidents that cause these
large recalls of contaminated meat.
First off, I am not accusing the
inspectors of not doing their jobs.
As far as I know they do the best
they can, but when you have 500
employees and 7-10 inspectors, it
is not hard to distract or fool them.
The employees, intimidated by the
supervisory staff, will do what they
are told or lose their jobs. I know
of some who have been forced to
push through questionable, some-
times obviously contaminated, meat.
Sometimes it just comes from
inexperienced people in the clean-
out jobs. They get overwhelmed by
the amount of chickens that they
get, so instead of cleaning out the
carcasses, they just switch bins
This job is considered the absolute
worst on an evisceration line. The
new employees almost always get
stuck there, or experienced employees
may get stuck there as punishment.
The volume of chickens they get
needs probably twice as many people
as the stations call for. So, the people
there, instead of cleaning the bird out
properly, take the birds from the
contaminated bin, throw them directly
into the non-contaminated bin without
doing the proper clean-out. It only takes
one contaminated bird to ruin a whole bin.
And the most important thing is speed.
At the busiest time they have to clean
out 20-30 per mintute.
(Another thing to take into consideration.
When the rest of front line takes a break,
these people have to finish the birds in
front of them before they can go, too.
However, they all have to be back on the
line at the same time. So, cleaning out
chickens can take up break time.)
Then a person called a Quality Control
person (paid by Tyson, working for
Tyson, not USDA) checks to see that
the proper clean-out has been done.
(The USDA inspector would have to
leave his place on the line to come
inspect this meat, which would
necessitate him stopping the line.
This is the BIG loophole.) If this QC
person wants to keep their job,
they will not hold up production.
If this QC person says they are good,
they go straight to pack-out.
From there to the table.
Finger lickin' good!