Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Since most people will never work in a chicken plant, as I have, I thought it might amuse others if I told of the many rules enforced by the U.S.D.A. to protect our food supply. The ones I am familiar with concern contamination. The wall of the plant for instance, is contaminated. When you stack things like pallets or the huge cardboard boxes we use and they touch the wall then they are contaminated and cannot be used. If one cardboard box corner touches the wall then all the boxes in the stack are contaminated. Even though we use cardboard to put chicken in, cardboard itself is contaminated. Cardboard cannot touch chicken, and if the plastic liner has a hole in it and touches one chicken, then the entire box, which may contain 100 lbs. of chicken is also contaminated.

The bottom of a cardboard box is considered contaminated. We would use these for 40 lbs. of drumsticks. The plastic liners we use are a bit large for their containers, so we had to tie a knot in the side of the liner to make it fit snugly and in no danger of touching the dangerously toxic bottom of the box. If the knot was too large, you could not squeeze it onto the edges, if it was too small, then the liner would spill over too far over the sides. The proper knot, hand tied by hand, had to be made. It was useful to have boxes with liners already made for those periods when a lot of chicken was coming down the line. It was important that these be stacked with liner against liner, 2 boxes upside down against each other, so the bottom of the boxes were against each other because the bottom of a box is contaminated. If one liner was touching one bottom, you threw away the entire stack and received a reprimand. These reprimands were written down and had different names which I never learned, being but a lowly line worker.

Another rule is: Anything that touches something that is contaminated is also contaminated.

Also if you remove all the chicken from a box you cannot reuse it, even if you do so immediately, as it is now contaminated.

If a cat somehow gets into the plant and is higher up than the containers of chicken then the chicken is all contaminated, every one. Rhetorically speaking, that is.

If a chicken foot or a chicken back somehow gets into a box of chicken then the chicken is contaminated. I was amused to see the grocery store sold chicken backs. Someone should tell them.

If you are spraying the floor with the high-pressure hoses that we use and accidentally spray some of the water hits something and sprays up onto chicken, then that chicken is contaminated.

The roof is of great importance because if the roof leaks on chicken then that chicken is, you guessed it, contaminated.

Although I find some of these rules amusing they are of course for our protection and should be followed.

No comments:

Post a Comment