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Putin Says Chlorine in Chickens Unsafe

Getting another American chicken into Russia just got harder.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin weighed into the Russian ban on U.S. chicken imports.

“We haven’t seen any readiness to meet Russian standards on the part of some of our partners, mainly the companies from the United States,” Putin said.  “If our foreign suppliers are unable or reluctant to meet our security requirements, we will use other sources.”

The Russians banned chickens from countries using chlorine in poultry processing beginning Jan. 1 2010.  Putin made the Americans the odd man out saying that Russia was merely joining the European Union in banning, for food safety reasons, chickens from chlorine-using counties.

“One shouldn’t look for political background in this case, God forbid,” said Russia’s former President and one-time KGB agent.  “No political background here!”

Putin attended a meeting on Russian poultry production where it was announced that the country would import a total of 780,000 metric tons of poultry in 2010, and then continue to reduce imports in the years ahead.

The American quota would be 600,000 metric tons for 2010, down 20 percent from 2009.  Since the ban, however, prices for American poultry in Russia are up about 20 percent.

Putin wants Russia to be poultry self-sufficient by 2015.

Since Russia raised the possibility of banning U.S. chickens for chlorine use in mid 2008, the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council has tried to persuade officials in Moscow by sharing scientific studies.  The poultry export market to Russia was valued at $825 million in 2008.

“The U.S. industry is committed to providing safe and healthful products to consumers in the United States as well as those in over 130 countries around the world, including Russia,” the USA Poultry and Egg Council said in a letter to Russian officials in late 2009,

The letter said the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recommends the “use of hypochlorus (i.e. active chlorine) solutions as an effective antimicrobial.

“Based on a substantial body of scientific studies, FSIS’ best practices recommendations is to use 20-50 ppm of free available chlorine in immersion chilling systems.”

Before the prime minister got involved in the issue, many on the American side were optimistic about getting American chickens back into Russia.  Now, however, Putin’s response to American arguments about the safety and science behind chlorine can pretty much be summer up in one word: “Nyet.”

© Food Safety News
  • jmunsell

    Every country must maintain the right to author its own purchase specifications for individual products. Even if America uses chlorine in poultry processing, Russia and all other countries must maintain the sovereignty to accept or reject chlorine. We cannot mandate our domestic style of food processing upon any other country. Nor can China mandate that we accept their products which are laced with melamine or any other number of “additives”, which America lacks the fortitude to scrutinize for safety at our borders.
    This reveals a problem with free trade, if such trade mandates that the entire globe complies with dumbed-down requirements to which some nations object. The customer is always right, even though some customers embrace “scientific justifications” which may not be in full agreement with our definitions.
    On February 25, 2006, USDA/FSIS held a conference in Atlanta, Georgia entitled “Advances in Post-Harvest Interventions To Reduce Salmonella in Poultry”. At that time, the domestic incidence of Salmonella in chicken carcasses was around 17 percent. And, the agency then announced it would begin posting the percentages by establishment number. The industry responded by implementing additional salmonella intervention steps, which has reduced the incidence down to around 7 percent. I’m not sure of the exact percentages; however, remarkable progress has been made.
    The point to make here is that a sizeable percentage of poultry carcasses produced today still carry a Salmonella load on them. And, these same poultry carcasses have been immersed in a liquid which has chlorine in it. (Some refer to the liquid as a pathogen bath. I agree). The statistics reveal that chlorine, although helpful, fails in around 7 percent of poultry carcasses. Frankly, we cannot expect Russia or any other country to acquiesce to our demand to purchase our poultry which has a 7% or higher incidence of pathogens. If other countries demand air-chilled carcasses, although they will cost more per lb, well, America has no business demanding that our foreign trading partners purchase our cheap Salmonella.
    In the early 90’s, following the collapse of Russia and the Berlin Wall, America developed a haughty hegemony in which we perceived that we were the unchallenged global military, economic, and political power. Little do we realize now, 20 years later, how close we are to becoming a third world country, as we depend on our thinly-spread military to enforce our supremacy, and our marginalized debt-ridden economy to maintain currency value. USDA had best depend on complying with other countries’ purchase specifications than to rely on economic saber-rattling, which is developing a tinny sound. John Munsell

  • John Munsell

    Every country must maintain the right to author its own purchase specifications for individual products. Even if America uses chlorine in poultry processing, Russia and all other countries must maintain the sovereignty to accept or reject chlorine. We cannot mandate our domestic style of food processing upon any other country. Nor can China mandate that we accept their products which are laced with melamine or any other number of “additives”, which America lacks the fortitude to scrutinize for safety at our borders.
    This reveals a problem with free trade, if such trade mandates that the entire globe complies with dumbed-down requirements to which some nations object. The customer is always right, even though some customers embrace “scientific justifications” which may not be in full agreement with our definitions.
    On February 25, 2006, USDA/FSIS held a conference in Atlanta, Georgia entitled “Advances in Post-Harvest Interventions To Reduce Salmonella in Poultry”. At that time, the domestic incidence of Salmonella in chicken carcasses was around 17 percent. And, the agency then announced it would begin posting the percentages by establishment number. The industry responded by implementing additional salmonella intervention steps, which has reduced the incidence down to around 7 percent. I’m not sure of the exact percentages; however, remarkable progress has been made.
    The point to make here is that a sizeable percentage of poultry carcasses produced today still carry a Salmonella load on them. And, these same poultry carcasses have been immersed in a liquid which has chlorine in it. (Some refer to the liquid as a pathogen bath. I agree). The statistics reveal that chlorine, although helpful, fails in around 7 percent of poultry carcasses. Frankly, we cannot expect Russia or any other country to acquiesce to our demand to purchase our poultry which has a 7% or higher incidence of pathogens. If other countries demand air-chilled carcasses, although they will cost more per lb, well, America has no business demanding that our foreign trading partners purchase our cheap Salmonella.
    In the early 90’s, following the collapse of Russia and the Berlin Wall, America developed a haughty hegemony in which we perceived that we were the unchallenged global military, economic, and political power. Little do we realize now, 20 years later, how close we are to becoming a third world country, as we depend on our thinly-spread military to enforce our supremacy, and our marginalized debt-ridden economy to maintain currency value. USDA had best depend on complying with other countries’ purchase specifications than to rely on economic saber-rattling, which is developing a tinny sound. John Munsell

  • Cindy

    Holy crap! Does it take the scumball Putin to point out that the chicken we eat in the U.S. is crap? Since when is ammonia a food? Major yuck. I don’t like Putin at all, but he’s right on the chicken front.

  • longislandsurfer

    No wonder so many people have cancer in the US. Ever pick up a cucumber or tomato at the grocery store? Who the heck want to eat wax? They are so shiny and slick, they look like fake vegetables! The US is way behind the EU when it comes to upgrading the standards for food and processing methods.

  • Peter

    I would hope that this would bring more awareness to environmental halogen overload. Chlorine, bromine, and fluorine ions and salts have invaded the food supply and leach iodine from the thyroid. The US is sitting on a health time-bomb of sub-clinical and clinical thyroid dysfunction.
    It’s also a good argument for local food.

  • stve

    we are creating the perfect storm for our enemy’s… I mean competitors… to take advantage of as we are currently being dismantled from within all it takes is for Putin and other wolves to join the fun with the rest of the world rejecting GMO’s and other unsound practices it will be easy to shut us out.

  • Berkboy

    Yet another great reason to stop eating meat and become vegetarian. This should not be surprising to anyone that has watched the movie Food Inc or has simply taken the time to learn more about where their “cheap food” is produced.

  • Boris

    Oh Cindy, you know you love Putin. He is a man’s man, and women love this kind of individual. His strength and muscles I know make you weak in the knees. You melt like butter in July when you see pictures of him doing he man stuff without his shirt. His glistening baldness leaves you breathless as sunlight reflects from his cranium into your burning eyes. Yes, I know. You secretly love Putin, the lion of Russia.

  • sporkinum

    We had been buying “Smart Chickens” since they are fresh and minimally processed. However, the local store was out of them and they had a good price on a whole chicken. You could taste the chlorine or other chemicals in it. It was horrible! We will NOT buy any chicken from that store other than the Smart Chickens. They cost more, but at least they are real food. I have no idea what that crap was they were selling as store brand. We wouldn’t even feed it to our pets.

  • Peter

    I would hope that this would bring more awareness to environmental halogen overload. Chlorine, bromine, and fluorine ions and salts have invaded the food supply and leach iodine from the thyroid. The US is sitting on a health time-bomb of sub-clinical and clinical thyroid dysfunction.
    It’s also a good argument for local food.

  • Patriot Act

    It seems to me that a trip to the swimming pool would create a much much greater exposure to chlorine than you would get from eating some chicken. It’s so strong that you can smell it and taste it, and you absorb it through the skin. But we don’t hear about swim athletes getting cancer or people getting up in arms about swimming being hazardous. Is there reliable science to show that our chicken is actually dangerous, or is this like so many other half-baked environmenalist scares? I don’t claim to know the answer; I’m just asking.

  • John

    You eat what you grew…’nuff said. How’s that hopey changey thingy going fo ya?

  • A TEACHABLE MOMENT

    Putin is playing politics, commies never care about their people
    just maintaining there power

  • Naive

    Boy, the people fawning over Putin for banning “dangerous” chicken from the US are gullible. US poultry is perfectly safe. This is nothing but protectionism by Putin. The article even says Putin wants Commieland to have a self-sustaining poultry market by 2015. What better way to do that than by banning imports. Get a clue, people.

  • John S

    I watched Food Inc. a documentary on the US food production. It would definitely make many people think twice about eating poultry or Beef from the US. Our food has become so assembly line that its not surprising the amount of bacteria outbreaks that come from our food. We as American’s are definitely in denial of our risks.

  • rufus levin

    Tell Putin that if you drink enough Vodka first, you can eat anything including toxic chicken…oh, wait…the Russians already drink enough vodka to pickle their livers by age 23…so why would they worry about chicken? Ever eat anything the Russians cook? They make the Brits look like gourmet chefs.
    !

  • mary

    I quit buying roasted chicken at Costco a couple of yrs ago because it tasted like clorox smells. Glad this is coming out.

  • Oberon

    I am far more concerned about the welfare of the chickens. Anybody thinking it is acceptable to kill another living being in order to feed his/her own fat face deserves salmonella or anything else s/he gets.

  • George

    The poultry is safe of course, USDA standards are higher than European and by far higher than Russian. And they will also have to use decontaminants, of which chlorine is the best, if they want their poultry to be safe.
    What’s amaizing in this story is not that Putin is lying, that’s in his nature. His is only driven by his ambitions and hunger for power. What’s amaizing that he can so easily find so many useful idiots across the ocean.

  • Jenny K

    Chlorine is a carcinogen. Russia is right to ban it. It is one of the three chemicals that form the cancer nucleus, along with phloridzin and gallic acid. The food industries should use ozone to sanitize food, not chlorine, and not propyl alcohol either. I have an ozonator and I treat all groceries to kill parasites — bacteria, viruses, flukes, mites, worms and their eggs. Some cities ozonate the water supply and that is far safer than using chlorine. See if you can lean what’s in your water supply.

  • Liz

    let them eat cake

  • Honest John

    It would be nice to know “the unadulterated truth” about what’s being done and what risks are posed. Of course Putin enjoys tweaking the US nose at every opportunity. Of course our “big business” / “big govt” friends will slant / filter / distort / hide info that is counterproductive from their perspective. The pure and simple truth is hard to discover even if all the players have good intentions. Bottom line, I suspect our “official chicken” is reasonably safe if unsavory. Bash the US? No, not me – the “other guys” are generally MUCH more sinister.

  • John Munsell: Every fresh poultry product carries a certain percentage of bacteria.
    It is IMPOSSIBLE to produce 100% pathogen free meat at a reasonable price, certainly Putin knows that too, therefore he is using the issue as a red herring to curtail American poultry imports.
    Bottom line, it is protectionism, pure and simple, depriving Russian consumers of free choice.

  • yrch

    Of all the chemicals added to food, chlorine is one of the substances that least bothers me. In fact, our bodies use/need chlorine in the form of chloride.
    Elemental chlorine, however, is highly corrosive, but it would have to be present in concentrations WELL above the point in which it can be smelled and/or tasted for that to become a problem.

  • Look, Munsel, if Russia were all that upset about chlorine in the chicken, they would halt ALL “contaminated” chicken imports, and would not be announcing long term plans to become “chicken self-sufficient”. This is trade war. Comparing the use of a chlorine solution (by the way, salt-water is a chlorine solution) to the use of toxic substances such as melamine, is ludicrous. It’s just a trade war.

  • Midwest

    No big deal send them unclorinated chickens. They buy enough chicken that the poultry processors can ship them anyway they demand. Russian mothers probably cook their microbes to death anyway…

  • caroline

    This from the land of the reuseable needle!!

  • U A

    I work for X a very large company (in)famous to people in the industry. Our new CEO had to threaten to fire the supervisors to make them eat our own food.
    Seriously, it should be required that they eat it every day.

  • Jim

    One word: Protectionism.

  • What a coincidence ! I just got done watching the documentary “King Corn” on Netflix Instant. This is nuts ! Industrialization for pure profit is going to get us in an insurmountable bind.

  • Nick Maximovich

    Apparently the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council and the USDA FSIS doesn’t know about irradiating poultry. Please join the 21st century.

  • DrX

    Nah, what munsel says is correct. Russians “are being deprived of free choice” is it? what about them being more self sufficient as US has been trying to be for years.stop eating yer own gavno and look at others the same as you would on yourself. Russian economy seems to be coming outta the bind better than in last 40 years, i see them improving and us falling. Besides, protectionism had been used plenty of times by US, allufa sudden “them dirty commies are depriving their people”… wake up damn it. Putin is doing what he thinks will be a long term good for russia which means less dependence and more ascendance to superpower status as we have done in past. As one of you guys mentioned, russians buy enough for us to send our chickens without having to treat them, so just send it like that and give em no reason to complain (even if they facilitate one at least we wont feel like there is something wrong with our standards).. PS. if you EVER been to europe you KNOW our food tastes like SHIT compared to theirs. And no, russian culinary prowess aint bad, they have more originality than our “innovators” coming up with what.. burgers? shut up and stop nagging russians because we are failing. Its our own damned companies fault for appeasing themselves and mass production rather than their customers.

  • Mike Klondyke

    What’s the (mean) meaning to remark: “…Russia’s former President and one-time KGB agent…”
    Does the author also write: G.Bush – former President and one-time CIA agent (later director)?

  • Jill

    Yes we WILL… Sarah 2012!!

  • drprobus

    Really! As if Putin doesn’t have any, more important things to worry about!

  • Over at Marler Blog a few Days ago I wrote:
    http://www.marlerblog.com/2010/01/articles/lawyer-oped/meat-industry-it-is-in-your-economic-selfinterest-to-produce-safe-food/
    Meat Industry – It is in Your Economic Self-Interest to Produce Safe Food
    Is “Made in US” safe? Or, is it a trade war?
    When I was a kid in the early 60’s, I recall that goods stamped “Made in Japan” meant cheap, and also sub-par in quality and “Made in US” meant the best. Interesting how that has changed (compare Japanese made cars to those in US for quality and sales).
    More recently, in my world, we continue to hear fears of food made “overseas” – food from China or Mexico – that is somehow unsafe, or less safe than food produced in the US. Yes, there have been instances of foreign food products sickening Americans (melamine in dog and cat food from China, Salmonella in cantaloupes from Honduras, Hepatitis A in green onions from Mexico), but in 17 years of being involved in every foodborne illness case, most of the food products that sicken us are home grown and mass-produced. As I have said more that a few times, “US corporations do a marvelous job of poisoning us.”
    It seems that other countries are now paying attention to what we sell (or try to) them. Perhaps, like me in the 60’s, they think “Made in the US” means something far different that what the producers and manufacturers would wish.
    Look at the recent dust-up over chicken in Russia – “Putin Wants Poultry Supply Secure by ’15:”
    Russia may stop importing poultry by 2015, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Thursday, backing a ban imposed on U.S. chicken imports at the beginning of the year. “We haven’t seen any readiness to meet Russian standards on the part of some of our partners, mainly the companies from the United States,” he said, chairing a meeting on poultry production in Snegirevka, in the Leningrad region. “If our foreign suppliers are unable or reluctant to meet our security requirements, we will use other sources,” he said, Interfax reported.
    Perhaps Putin is playing to the Russia poultry industry (goodness, we never see US politicians doing the same here.), or, perhaps he read Consumer Reports a few months ago when it found:
    … of 382 whole chickens bought from more than 100 stores in 22 states, found that two-thirds harbor disease-causing bacteria—salmonella, campylobacter or both. While one name brand, Perdue, and most air-chilled organic chickens were significantly less contaminated than Foster Farms and Tyson brand chicken, consumers still need to be extremely vigilant in handling and cooking chicken. …
    When our tests found 44 percent of the chickens from the best performing major brand of chicken, Perdue, were contaminated with one or both pathogens, and 80 percent of the chickens from the most contaminated brands we tested—Tyson and Foster Farms—had the bacteria, the industry cannot be regarded as providing sufficiently safe and wholesome food. The industry must and can do better, and the USDA must establish the standards and enforcement mechanisms to ensure that outcome.
    And, what about Asia? The latest controversy over “Made in the US” can be found in “Taiwan Bans Some U.S. Beef Imports.” Apparently Taiwan politicians:
    … reinstate[d] a ban on American ground beef and offal reflected public concern that Taiwanese health officials lack sufficient safeguards to prevent mad cow disease a brain-wasting disease in cattle that in humans can cause a variant form, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.
    True or not, can you blame them for being a bit worried over US beef after reading, “Safety of Beef Processing Method Is Questioned.” Here are a few choice lines:
    … The Beef Products case reveals a schism between the main Department of Agriculture and its division that oversees the school lunch program, a divide that underscores the government’s faltering effort to make hamburger safe. The U.S.D.A. banned the sale of meat found to be contaminated with the O157:H7 strain of E. coli 15 years ago, after a deadly outbreak was traced to Jack in the Box restaurants. Meat tainted with salmonella is also a hazard. But while the school lunch program will not buy meat contaminated with salmonella, the agriculture department does not ban its sale to the general public.
    Even so, E. coli outbreaks nationwide have increased in recent years. And this summer, two outbreaks of particularly virulent strains of salmonella in hamburger prompted large recalls of ground beef across several states. …
    Beef Products maintains that its ammonia process remains effective. It said it tests samples of each batch it ships to customers and has found E. coli in only 0.06 percent of the samples this year.
    The company says its processed beef, a mashlike substance frozen into blocks or chips, is used in a majority of the hamburger sold nationwide. …
    Carl S. Custer, a former U.S.D.A. microbiologist, said he and other scientists were concerned that the department had approved the treated beef for sale without obtaining independent validation of the potential safety risk. Another department microbiologist, Gerald Zirnstein, called the processed beef “pink slime” in a 2002 e-mail message to colleagues and said, “I do not consider the stuff to be ground beef, and I consider allowing it in ground beef to be a form of fraudulent labeling.”…
    Trade war? Perhaps, or not. However, you must admit that the meat industry and our own government is handing the stick to allow foreign politicians to beat the meat industry in the head. Seriously, “salmonella, campylobacter” in large percentages of chicken in our stores, and “pink slime” that someone in our own government “consider[s] the stuff to [not] be ground beef, and I consider allowing it in ground beef to be a form of fraudulent labeling.”…
    “Made in USA” used to mean something different. Someone should be paying attention.

  • Kerry Nash

    No one here has another viable solution. As far as irradiating, it might be safe but as soon as you mention it, the masses start screaming about that too! So, whar is the answer?????

  • Ron Ernie

    You anti American Food (morons) should get a life and go to work instead of sitting around on your butts in front of your pb and jelly stained lappys complaining. It is amusing to read your ignorant remarks. None of you self appointed experts are in the know about anything you are discussing.
    You all better get going and put some enzimes into your blood and stop taking handfuls of those stupid pills.
    Ron Ernie

  • faamecanic

    “Cindy
    01/16/2010
    5:24PM Holy crap! Does it take the scumball Putin to point out that the chicken we eat in the U.S. is crap? Since when is ammonia a food? Major yuck. I don’t like Putin at all, but he’s right on the chicken front.”
    First Pooty Poot moves to a FLAT TAX for individuals and corporations (wow..no loopholes) and has the largest tax revenue ever, now this stance for healthy food.
    Who would have ever though the former USSR would be more free then the USA, who is backsliding into socialism/communism.
    Good job Putin…

  • Tom Kruzen

    If you ever saw how they raise poultry and process it in the US, you’d never eat another chicken nugget! I’ve been to the chicken CAFOs and to Tyson’s plant in Noel, Missouri. I’ve tested the foul water Tyson releases into the once beautiful Elk River. It’s a sewer…96,000 colonies of e-coli per hundred milliliters of water!!!
    You should all see the movie, “Food, Inc”. It would even scare the brave former KGB guy named Putin.

  • Betty

    I have seen documentations at the plant that MR Kruzen mentions, chiller chlorine levels as high as 327ppm, on a daily occurance and because of this health expsoures to these chemicals I am now refused to go back to work there without a respirator for my own protection. Medical Orders from the Occumed physican that has treated me for these chemical exposures of overflowing of the gases/fumes into the open drains directly under the FSIS inspection stations. It has been known for many years, but has been covered up.

  • ELK RIVER

    MR Kruzen you are absobultly correct. The chlorines level in the chiller refect that as high as 327ppm and daily chlorine levels over 50ppm due to the large amounts of Bacteria on the product.
    You all keep focus on the FOOD SAFETY NEWS and the Nation TV News in the near future because you will be hearing alot about this Plant that MR Kruzen is talking about. Over 700 Non-Complainaces (NRs) in the year of 2008 alot.

  • Hanna

    Yes, i just bought a pack of chicken meat at Jewel Osco supermarket. When i opened the plastic wrap a strong clorox bleach odor suddenly was released into the air. I placed the chicken meat under running water and the smell wont go away. I tried cooking it thinking the smell will go away but it made it even worst, the cooked chicken tasted liked bleach (clorox)!!! Had to throw it away! Dangerous to our health…