Chicken for Dinner, It's Enough To Make You Sick
By Karen Davis, PhD
Fat and Cholesterol- Many people have been switching from red meat to
chicken, believing chicken to be a healthier alternative. However,
chicken is far from being a healthy food. For one thing, chicken is not
low in fat. Light, skinless chicken derives about 18 percent of calories
from fat. Skinless roast dark meat chicken is 32 percent fat. Like all
meat, chicken is permeated by inherent fat--you can't cut it away.
Chicken contains artery-clogging saturated fat. The cholesterol content
of chicken is comparable to that of beef. By contrast, plants have no
cholesterol. But if you want to lower the fat in the bird, simmer it, remove it
from soup, dry it off, peel it, then give all junk parts to the animals. Neck
gizzard, skin. When broth is cool, throw in a jar. THEN skim off that hard
layer of fat. When you have ten lbs of fat, give it to a soapmaker you find at
Craigs list. Meanwhile, take the chicken and turn it into enchiladas.
Food Poisoning- In addition to fat and cholesterol, food poisoning is a
major problem. According to Consumer Reports, "It's believed that fewer
than 5 percent of food-poisoning cases are recognized and reported." The
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] reported that the
number of cases in outbreaks of illness caused by chicken tripled
between 1988 and 1992.
Over 40 different foodborne pathogens are believed to cause human
illness. Meat and poultry are the primary sources."
The report states that "Foods most likely to carry pathogens
are high-protein, nonacid foods, such as meat, poultry, seafood, dairy
products, and eggs. Farm livestock and poultry infected with microbial
pathogens may expose other animals in a herd or flock by excreting
pathogens, pathogen cysts, or larvae."
(From personal experience, undercook chicken, you will get
salmonella, a week of fever, cramping and body aches, swollen
joints.) The pain is horrific! Only penicillin cures it. I had to wait
while all my pals mailed their pills to me, to get well.
In a recent study of store-bought chickens in the U.S., including
"free-range" and "premium," Consumer Reports found harmful bacteria in
71 percent: campylobacter in 63 percent of the chickens, salmonella in
16 percent. Eight percent of chickens had both campylobacter and
salmonella. According to Consumer Reports, "One in 20 birds were nearly
spoiled, and even a fresh bird is not necessarily free of
disease-causing bacteria. The U.S. Department of Agriculture seal, which
certifies a chicken as free from visible signs of disease, is no
guarantee of cleanliness."
Diseases Traced to the Feeding of Low-Grade Animal Products and other
Stressors - Poultry feed contains poultry and other animal
products--bones, feathers, blood, offal, manure, restaurant grease,
fishmeal, slaughterhouse condemnations, and other diseased animal parts.
Poultry feed --"animal protein"-- has long been identified as a primary
source of salmonella contamination, and poultry waste-products have been
linked to congestive heart and lung failure in chickens. Not only are
sick birds shipped directly to consumers; animals who die of diagnosed
diseases before slaughter are fed to the chickens people eat, along with
other animals who died of unknown causes. Poultry producers refuse to
tell the actual composition of poultry feed, taking refuge from
disclosure in government protected "propriety information" that "is not
disclosed publicly." They are exposed to numerous other sources of
contamination, and are generally monitored for contamination
The Cost of "Cheap" Chicken - If chicken were produced less
unwholesomely and hazardously it would not be a cheap product. Most
people could not afford to eat chicken except on special occasions. As
noted in Broiler Industry, "The cost to the consumer would be enormous."
The article claims that "the cost of eliminating salmonella from flocks
and raw finished product may force the price of poultry to increase to
the point that poultry must be imported from less expensive sources"
(like Mexico, South America, or Asia). The issue was characterized in
1987 by a U.S. Department of Agriculture official, who said, "we know
more about controlling salmonella than we are willing to implement
because of the cost factor."
Over-Cooking Is Not a Cure-All and Could Cause Cancer - Consumers can
reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of food poisoning by taking
elaborate kitchen precautions; however, many pathogens cannot be killed
by cooking or refrigeration, and small human error or prior health
problems can lead to serious illness, even death. It is probable that
many people are unaware of, or are unable to implement, the intricacies
of "safe food handling" of chicken and other animal products that are
now being outlined in the food sections of the newspaper and indicated
on some TV commercials by companies taking advantage of the disease
risks identified with bringing store-bought poultry into the house. The
food-label term "natural" does "not relate to how the chicken was fed,
raised, slaughtered, handled, or packed." Apart from "fed," the same is
true of the term "organic."
Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved antibiotics are the basis of
the poultry industry. For example, the March 18, 1998 Federal Register
announced FDA approval of "a new animal drug application filed by
Hoechst Roussel Vet, Warren, N.J., that provides for using approved
single ingredient Type A medicated articles to make Type C medicated
broiler feeds containing narasin, bambermycins and roxarsone."
No federal regulations require a "sell-by-date" on chicken packages or
products. The consumer has no way of knowing how long ago the chicken
was killed and then sat around in various processing plants, trucks,
loading docks, or in the meat case. If not sold directly to consumers,
spoiled, rancid birds and used cooking grease can go back into the food
chain in the form of livestock and poultry feed as well as into pet
Historically, royalty used perfume instead of washing. We disguise the
smell of death with flowers and deodorizers at funerals and at the food
store. Methods of dealing with filthy chicken houses, sick birds, rancid
and contaminated products mask the conditions while increasing the load
of substances the birds, poultry workers, consumers, and the environment
must cope with, including antibiotics, chlorine, microbial and
antimicrobial sprays, and irradiation.
Commercial Chickens Spend Their Lives in Excrement - The chickens one
buys at the supermarket lived and breathed, day in, day out, in
excrement-- abnormal excrement at that. Because of their terrible diet,
their wastes "contain more protein, organic matter, nitrogen,
phosphorous, and other material known to cause pollution problems than
do the wastes of animals on normal diets." In addition to the solid
excrement on the floor, the birds are forced to breathe excretory
ammonia fumes throughout their growing lives. These poisoned gases
permeate the air, rising from the decomposing uric acid in the
accumulated droppings in the chicken houses. They penetrate egg shells.
They enter the birds' airways and immune system, inviting salmonella and
other pathogens to colonize and spread. The droppings themselves contain
pathogens, medication residues, cysts and larvae, and metals such as
copper, arsenic, and zinc.