Earlier this month a federal judge upheld citations issued by OSHA to Murray’s Chicken. The company, located 100 miles north of New York City, was cited by OSHA in June 2012 for repeat and serious violations of worker safety regulations. Among others, Murray’s Chicken failed to provide information and train its workers on the hazardous chemicals used in the plant to disinfect the chicken carcasses. OSHA inspectors found that workers in the “kill, evisceration and other poultry processing areas” were routinely exposed to bleach and Perasafe, an antimicrobial agent containing peracetic acid, hydrogen peroxide and acetic acid. Some of the exposed workers were suffering from respiratory system ailments and skin rashes.
For this and other OSHA violations, the agency proposed a $67,600 penalty. Murray’s Chicken, which operates under the name MB Consultants Ltd., contested the citations. The judge didn’t buy Murray’s challenge of OSHA’s findings.
OSHA's inspection came following the November 2011 death of Jose Navarro, 37. Navarro was a USDA poultry inspector who was assigned to work at Murray Chicken. As reported in April 2013 by the Washington Post's Kimberly Kindy, Navarro was concerned that chemicals used in the chicken processing were adversely affecting his health and those of the poultry-processing workers. His widow Nicole told Kindy:
"Some themes that were constant were poor ventilation and overuse and mishandling of chemicals which constantly irritated his lungs. Sometimes he would hold his hand over his chest and talk about the chlorine reaching intolerable levels that day."
After a week in the hospital, Navarro died from a pulmonary hemorrhage.
At Murray’s Chicken, it’s better to be a bird than a worker. Their website shows it’s all about the chickens. The company says its poultry tastes best because its birds have
“the best living conditions,” are raised in a “lush countryside,” with a “leisurely lifestyle,” and plenty of fresh air and sunlight where they can stretch their wings. The company says its chickens are “happy and healthy,” and boasts its processes are “certified humane.”
More than 150 stores in New York City alone carry Murray’s Chicken products. Their poultry may actually taste better because of the way the chickens are raised. I just wish though that more consumers thought about the workers in the plants, than the animals that end up on our plates.
I can assure you that if Murray's doesn't give a damn about its workers, it's almost guaranteed that its chickens have it way worse. The premise of your story is correct. Worker conditions need to be addressed right now, because it's wrong to force people to work in unsafe conditions. However, Murray's obviously has a great public affairs firm dolling up how nice life is for their chickens, too. If they produce a number of carcasses a day, then they are a factory farm and life in those places is no picnic. I am sure it's a real horror show for the chickens who must endure those conditions in order to have the privilege of being killed and eaten when it's all done.