by Lesley Scott
Through commercials and others' opinions, are we being too gullible?
|What on earth is the USDA doing?
Today 90 percent of all chickens are raised for human consumption in the United States, alone. Family run broiler operations are usually part of diversified farms that are often supplemented by non-farm income. They cannot compete with the new form of farming by raising, butchering and packaging. There is a new breed of farmer taking most of the action in the market.
Growing chickens on “factory farms” is not often considered a full time job. The typical factory farm runs on portions of feeds, many genetically altered, and a daily hosing down of the facilities, shuttling the birds from one facility to another for further processing. The conditions in which these suffing animals are housed is atrocious and cruel.
Many of these factory farms ship their chicken carcasses to China for processing. Not even the USDA regulates the standards of the packaged chicken exported back to the US for human consumption. eighty percent of chickens raised in the United States are being sent overseas to China. Apparently, the USDA is trusting China's processig practices.
According to HSUS, ASPCA, and PETA, CAST, and other organizations like the NCC, many of the pullets are not affectively killed and will die in the boiling water where the birds are dipped to loosen their feathers. It speeds up plucking time. Farming becomes an assembly line. A memo from PETA and HSUS are protesting the plans of factory farms to be able to kill pigs and chickens by submersing them in boiling water. Being boiled alive is a painful death.
A number of privately owned farms have swapped to factory farming, just to make a living and profit at the cost of the inhumane treatment of the birds from hatchings to young adults. The male chicks are thrown down a chute to be ground up for other uses, such as animal feed. The female chicks are the ones growing the fastest. The burning off the chicks’ top beaks is standard practice. This is extremely painful and it is only the beginning of a life of cruelty and indifference.
A very well-known and expensive farm advertises that their chickens are happy birds that are inspected on site by the USDA. This is not what the USDA has to say for itself. According to new guidelines to save money, time and effort, the factory farmers are authorized to inspect their own facilities. Furthermore, anyone caught spying on the operations, taking pictures or videos, is arrested on the spot. This is referred to as the "Ag Gag." Does someone have something to hide?
So with the USDA no longer inspecting factory farms, why does a well-known poultry provider claim they are inspected? The cartoon even shows men carrying a clipboard for notations. The company claims their birds are the healthiest and happiest birds. By what standards? The chickens are raised no differently than other factory farmed poultry.
The inhumane conditions and treatment of chickens and other animals cultivated in factory farms is considered a drop in the bucket when compared to the huge profits. “These animals are going to die anyway,” is one of the main excuses. In reality, a new law was just passed that allows the production and slaughter of chickens to speed up and not worry about the birds that don't die right awa. After all, they have a short, but pitiful life.
It is time the consumers must become concerned citizens and research the plants where their meat is butchered, and available at the supermarket. It is just a google and a click of a mouse away from ignorance and becoming well-informed about what Americans, especially children, put in their stomachs.
The ‘recommended guidelines” allow as little as one square foot per bird and no requirement for natural lighting. We all expect our government and their USDA to inspect, such as it is, chicken products with the highest level of confidence in these products for proper sanitation, general cleaning and washing of hands, and even GMO’s (genetically Modified Organisms). To date, we have no concrete evidence that these new food products may cause serious side affects. In some small studies, GMO’s have been linked to autism in children, and other neurological disorders. We just don’t know yet. It may be the arsenic additive to chicken feed to make them grow faster!
The National Chicken Council (NCC) provides the education from studies, the laws proposed that would be useless. The NCC on line will provide the reader with all of their collective data and any other information on factory farming. These studies are posted online, for free. Just click your mouse and there it is for you to make your own decision about how the chicken makes its way to your dinner plate.
According to Dan Cunningham, Ph.D., of the University of Georgia, “Farmers paid by the basis of weight gain by the flock expect to earn some of their total income by raising poultry, while the factory farming contracts hatching, growers, special feed and hormones, GMOs, and even arsenic, in meat packing for a tidy profit. All of the contracted farming expects to make sizable incomes from their diversified practices.” Also mentioned by Dr. Cunningham, “Regular poultry farms can expect 4.5 percent to 7.0 percent of the initial capital investment while the mortgage is rising.” Factory farming, as a whole, does not do well in regards to neglect, the way they operate. They make money.”
In the past few months, eighteen states, particularly California, hundreds or more people were violently ill from eating chicken contaminated by the Salmonella Heidelburg infection. The causes could be one or more of improper handling, poor sanitation, food safety and no affective inspection may be some of the causes. The USDA announced that consumers should wash the chicken, keep the cutting boards clean and always wash hands. There are not many chicken lovers who don’t know how to handle or cook their chicken according the USDA guidelines. Also, Salmonella has to be present in the meat to make it toxic. That most likely comes from the “growing end” of the process.
Recently, over one million consumers became violently ill after eating processed chicken that had been shipped to us from China. The United State Factory farms send the butchered chickens to China to be butchered because the price is much cheaper. Quite a high number of diseases and even deaths result from this unsanitary practice. A through cooking may kill salmonella, but not other dangerous compounds found in factory farm feeds. People are getting seriously ill from meat supposedly inspected by the USDA.
“CAST,” or “Council for Agricultural Science and Technology,” is the scientific source for food agricultural and environmental issues(CAST Commentaries: QT A2012-1 May 2012). “The health of the animals within the food animal production system impacts many aspects of the system far removed from the animals, themselves."
To promote high productivity in animal agriculture, researchers need to examine nutrition, management systems, and animal care practices such as antibiotics, arsenic,hormones and GMOs added to food with little known consequences. Already hormones may be causing problems with individuals reaching puberty at an early age.
How many illnesses and infections can't be cured are due to an immunity to antibiotics? Arsenic may cause the chickens to grow faster, but what about factoring in men, women and especially children? "They" try to minimise the use of arsenic, a poison, by saying, "It is only in small doses." Small doses add up when the American Public is so hungry for meat.
Spreading the word about these factory farmers and especially taking pictures or videos is punishable by a very recent law." This law is referred to as the "Ag Gag." We can't discuss or prove what really goes on in these places. PETA has a collection of bootlegged videos and photos on their website. Sir Paul McCartney narrates, "If Slaughterhouses Were Made of Glass, We'd All Be Vegetarians." The film shows exactly how these animals are treated and how the companies handle these products. The video is exceptionally disturbing, but should be watched to get a handle on what's really happening.
This commentary looks at the pressures to change livestock rearing methods, evidence to support the direct public health, impact on human illness days, and extremely effective food safety and inspection service regulations. Is that too much to ask for our health? Does it have an affect on the quality of the meat and the inhumane way these animals are treated? The animals are extremely stressed out, and stress is proven to lower the quality of the meat.
If everyone could see how a slaughterhouse or the way a chicken farm is operated, we would swear off meat. Some of us don’t mind a bit, as long as they have something to cook for supper. Other than processed meat, there are few options. Farmers have come to realize that raising their animals organically, with no GMOs, hormones, antibiotics, no commercial fertilizer or defoliant, pesticides and other harmful substances, do have a market. The organic meat can be bought at a heath food store.What price do we put on good health? Now regular supermarkets can offer organic meat for a few dollars more than the same price as the factory farmed meat. What is a healthy diet worth?
The employees in a basic slaughterhouse/factory farming business either turn agaist the corporation and become activists against the cruel treatment of the animals, be it chickens, pigs, poulty, and livestock. Or accept the unthinkable cruelty as normal. If an employee makes the factory farm/slaugherhouse a career, that person could, and probably would, become jaded and short tempered with the animals. "After all," said an interviewed ex-employee of a well-known company, "they are all going to die, anyway. Why should we care how these animals are treated?" The result is horrific treatment of animals.
In a perfect world, we would have no animal cruelty, well run meat packing plants and farms. Our pastures would be lush and green from organic fertilizer, and for we vegetarians, the fruit and vegetables would be healthier. Maybe this change will come in the future. It could be possible in our next generation, or maybe the next, or maybe not at all if we don' t do something about it soon.