The nasty business of eating chickens and eggs

E. Coli Found in 48% of Chickens —

That was the title of a recent article in the New York Times (see link below). In a world where even vegetarians eat chickens and eggs, this kind of news will catch the attention of many. But how much of this kind of news will it take to end the madness?

Dr. Neal Barnard, one of the brave medical pioneers featured in our book.

The study referenced in the title was sponsored by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and led by Dr. Neal Barnard. From the article:

“Most consumers do not realize that feces are in the chicken products they purchase,” said Dr. Neal D. Barnard, president of the group. “Food labels discuss contamination as if it is simply the presence of bacteria, but people need to know that it means much more than that.”

Since it was a small study consisting of only a total of 120 chickens selected randomly in ten major cities, many “food safety” experts were inclined to not take the findings too seriously. “Food safety specialists said the findings were a tempest in a chicken coop, particularly because the test was so small and the E. coli found was not a kind that threatened public health.” But one expert thought differently:

“What’s surprising to me is that they didn’t find more,” said Dr. Michael Doyle, director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia. “Poop gets into your food, and not just into meat — produce is grown in soil fertilized with manure, and there’s E. coli in that, too.”

Notice that Dr. Moore also shed some light on how some of fruits and vegetables get contaminated with pollutants of animal origin. It’s really all very simple—as long as we’re growing upwards of ten billion animals a year in this country, there are going to be never-ending problems with food safety.

Poop management. While researching for our book, we learned that the excrement from those ten billion animals is 130 times as much as the entire human population. Just think about that. And we have no way to safely dispose of that 1.37 BILLION TONS of waste.

So which came first, the chicken or the egg? Well, in the case of this article, it was the chicken—and it was based on a study by an organization (PCRM) with an interest in promoting a vegan lifestyle. Hence, some of the findings were looked at skeptically by many of the so-called “food experts.”

But in the same newspaper—the same week—an opinion column was published on the related topic of egg production.

Even the mainstream media is now questioning the madness.

Nicholas Kristof -- New York Times

Just this week (4-11-12), regular New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof, shared some behind-the-scenes news about the nasty world behind the henhouse walls. He’s writing about an egg producer with a daily volume of 4.5 million eggs. From the article:

“It’s physically hard to breathe because of the ammonia” rising from manure pits below older barns, said the investigator, who would not allow his name to be used because that would prevent him from taking another undercover job in agriculture. He said that when workers needed to enter an older barn, they would first open doors and rev up exhaust fans, and then rush in to do their chores before the fumes became overwhelming.

Mice sometimes ran down egg conveyer belts, barns were thick with flies and manure in three barns tested positive for salmonella, he said. (Actually, salmonella isn’t as rare as you might think, turning up in 3 percent of egg factory farms tested by the Food and Drug Administration last year.)

An automatic feeding cart that runs between the cages sometimes decapitates hens as they’re eating, the investigator said. Corpses are pulled out if they’re easy to see, but sometimes remain for weeks in the cages, piling up until they have rotted into the wiring, he added. Other hens have their heads stuck in the wire and are usually left to die, the investigator said.

It turns out that Mr. Kristof grew up on a farm in Oregon and has a much better appreciation for what’s happening on our factory farms than most of his peers at the Times. Toward the end of his piece, he stated the following:

For those who are wavering, think for a moment about the arc of empathy. Centuries ago, we humans amused ourselves by seeing other people executed or tortured. Until modern times, we considered it sport to see animals die horrible deaths. Now our sensibilities have evolved so that there is an outcry when animals are abused — unless it happens out of sight on farms.

Of course, one of the owners of Kreider Farms, the egg producer involved defended his company’s position, “These allegations by the Humane Society are a gross distortion of Kreider Farms, our employees and the way we care for birds,” Ron Kreider, the president of Kreider Farms, told me in a statement. He acknowledged that three barns had tested positive for salmonella but said that consumers were never endangered.”

The Bottom Line. All of the effort seems to be working on laws to better protect the ten billion farm animals, over 80% of which are chickens. To me, that effort seems futile–and almost serves as a distraction away from the real problem…

We’re Eating the Wrong Food!

Ending the madness. Our current method of feeding ourselves is a real bad deal for all concerned. Not only is our food killing us, it is harmful to the planet and is a ridiculous waste of water, land and energy. And all we have to do to end the madness is adopt a health-promoting diet for our selves…a blinding flash of the obvious.

Two previous posts regarding the origin of most of the problems with our food supply—eating animals.

Tainted cantaloupes; the headlines never tell the story.

Eating animals — and the origin of disease in humans

The referenced NY Times articles provided here:

In Small Sample, E. Coli Found in 48% of Chicken in Stores –

Is an Egg for Breakfast Worth This? –

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J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

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Blogging daily at…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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3 Responses to The nasty business of eating chickens and eggs

  1. Linda201 says:

    The masses never seem to be appropriately scared or “grossed out” when there is “news” about E. coli and/or salmonella in chickens and eggs, so eating behaviors remain the same. I wonder if they’d be more likely to stop eating chicken if they knew chickens don’t just live in feces, they eat feces, and 90% of chickens in this country have cancer at the time of slaughter [John Robbins – The Food Revolution].

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