Chicken today, like most of the food in the supermarket, has changed. It’s not what my parents ate! I don’t know about you, but I’m concerned about what’s happening to food in this country and about the impact it’s having on our health, the environment and the health of our children.
For example: Chickens are now fed a constant supply of antibiotics to keep them from dying in their short 47 days of life (because conditions in the hen houses are so filthy and over populated) and to make them grow fast, twice as fast as chickens grew when I was a kid. They also give them arsenic, which I’m now ingesting when I eat conventionally farmed chicken and they inject chickens with MSG, monosodium glutimate, salt and cleaning agents (YUM) before shipping them to the grocery store. It’s not just the chickens who live horrendous lives but the workers who work in the factory farms are also being exploited. This is a sad story but I believe that we can effect change if we refuse to buy what’s being offered. There are alternatives.
What’s in my Chicken? From the Dr. Oz Show. Source: Dr. OZ website
According to Dr. OZ, there are only 4 companies that supply 50% of the supply of chickens in this country. Conventionally raised chickens are given Roxarsone, an organic arsenic and antibiotics, they are kept inside with no sunlight and are crowded so that they cannot move and will grow faster. When the chickens reach 5 pounds they are sent off to be killed, injected with salt and MSG and shipped to your grocery store. According to Dr. OZ, today’s chickens are bigger than they have ever been, because of the drugs and antibiotics we are pumping into them.
In addition to Roxarsone, the following are often pumped into chicken that we eat: Monosodium Glutamate, Sodium Erythorbate, Trisodium Phosphate (a cleaning agent) and salt.
Major Difference in Today’s Chicken
1. Chicken Size
In the 1950’s, a typical chicken weighed 3 pounds. Now, chickens typically weigh 5 pounds. Urvashi Rangan from Consumer Reports said that they ran a lot of tests to see why chickens are so much larger now than just two generations ago. After WWII, America began to optimize chicken to have more breast meat, thigh meat and to grow larger in general. However, at the same time, they noticed that if you are going to pack chicken in tight quarters, you have to also give them antibiotics to keep them well.
2. Antibiotics in Chicken Feed
Dr Oz thinks that the biggest change in chickens is that now many chickens get antibiotics in their daily feed, regardless of whether or not they are sick. David Kessler, author of The End of Overeating, said that antibiotics are used in chicken feed for three reasons:
– To treat disease
– To prevent diseases they might get
– To increase the chicken’s growth rate
And this last one is the biggest concern to Kessler, because using antibiotics to increase a chicken’s size is an abuse of antibiotics and can increase drug resistance. Back in the 1950’s, it took chickens 85 days to reach maturity, whereas now, chicken’s reach maturity in 47 days. The way corporate America looks at it, the bigger the chicken and the faster it can get to the large size, the more profits for them.
3. Chicken Growth Rate
According to Dr Robert Lawrence, for chickens to grow faster, the bacteria in the chicken’s guts must be minimized, because bacteria in a chicken’s gut compete for what the chickens consume. So the less bacteria in the gut, the faster the chicken can grow. This is concerning because people can die from super bugs caused by drug resistance.
Dr Rangan stated that Consumer Reports did a study on Antibiotic Resistance and found the following antibiotic resistance in bacteria in chicken: Tetracycline, Amoxicillin, Ampicillin and Ciprofloxacin. Accoring to Dr. OZ, Ciprofloxacin is one of the most powerful antibiotics that we have, so its very scary that 2/3 of the pathogens found were resistant to one or more of these antibiotics.
Unfortunately, we are unable to find out exactly how many antibiotics are given to chickens. While the FDA and CDC have given careful guidelines to restrict the overuse of antibiotics in the food supply chain, there is definitely a large concern that these restrictions simply are not enough.
4. Roxarsone: Organic Arsenic
Roxarsone (Arsenic) is given to chickens to prevent them from getting sick, but it is also a growth promoter and has the side benefit of adding a yellow color to the chicken’s skin. Several benefits of Roxarsone are that it shortens the time of getting the bird to market weight and it treats parasites to keep the chicken healthy. While organic arsenic is currently considered relatively safe, we all know how dangerous inorganic arsenic is. We have to weight the benefits (like preventing parasites such as Salmonella) with the risks.
There is no doubt that our behavior as consumers drives the chicken industry. So if we buy organic antibiotic free chicken, it will shift the industry, but of course the FDA can and should be tougher as well. For now though, we have to look out for our own good and not depend on agencies like the FDA. So jump on the bandwagon with me (and Dr Oz) and only buy Organic Chicken.
Video: CLF Science Director Discusses Roxarsone (Arsenic used in chicken feed) at Press Conference
This video was filmed in Europe but the factory conditions are identical to those in the USA.
I thought this information was interesting. My kids have never eaten at a McDonalds but I think most kids in America have. I’ve always had a sneaky suspicion that McNuggets were some kind of freaky, mutant food.
Full ingredient list for a Chicken McNugget (from McDonald’s website):
White boneless chicken, water, food starch-modified, salt, seasoning (autolyzed yeast extract, salt, wheat starch, natural flavoring (botanical source), safflower oil, dextrose, citric acid, rosemary), sodium phosphates, seasoning (canola oil, mono- and diglycerides, extractives of rosemary). Battered and breaded with: water, enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), yellow corn flour, food starch-modified, salt, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium lactate), spices, wheat starch, whey, corn starch. Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent.