Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Store Bought Chicken - Is It Safe?

The United States Government is supposed to keep its citizens safe from hazards such as terrorism, war, and unsafe drugs and foods. But the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) doesn't always do their job. One food often consumed by people, chicken, has recently been proven to contain dangerous chemicals.

In mid 2011, the FDA admitted that chicken meat sold in stores contains the toxic, cancer-causing chemical, arsenic! How does this dangerous chemical get in the meat? It's in the feed fed to the chickens!

The FDA states that arsenic is only lethal in large quantities, but who even wants small doses of a potentially lethal chemical?

Until this recent study, the FDA and chicken farmers denied that the arsenic fed to chickens ended up in the meat. Now they've discovered that it does indeed affect the meat!

Why do feed makers add arsenic anyway? It helps reduce parasites in chickens, keeping them healthier. But the real reason is it stimulates growth making the chickens bigger, quicker. Can anyone say "More Profit"?

Chickens under stress are more prone to harbor parasites. What causes stress in a chicken? Being crammed together with 20,000 other chickens on a huge, crowded farm. Which, incidentally, is how most chicken farms operate these days. Again, profit is the priority.

You can't blame chicken farmers for wanting to make profit. That's the whole point of owning a business. It just when greed takes over and overrules safety. That's when it goes too far.

In the past, the FDA and chicken industry experts stated that arsenic in chicken meat was the organic type, which I guess is safer than inorganic arsenic. However, later studies showed that arsenic is unstable, and can sometimes surface in chicken meat in the inorganic form. Much more prone to cause cancer.

According to Food and Water Watch, "Chronic exposure to arsenic is associated with increased risk for several kinds of cancer, including bladder, kidney, lung, liver and prostate." Nice. And we wonder why cancer is such a huge problem in our country!

So what's being done about the problem? Well, in 1999 the European Union banned its use, and the US poultry giant, Tyson, stopped using it fearing liability issues. But the rest of the industry kept right on using the arsenic-laced feed and the FDA or USDA hasn't taken steps to rein them in.

In 2004 a USDA researcher made an alarming discovery. She found that US chicken meat had 3 to 4 times as much inorganic arsenic as other types of poultry or meat produced in the US!

You would expect such an important finding would spur the authorities into action! Nope.

It's a shame the FDA and USDA have dropped the ball on making chicken meat safe. Chicken is such a healthy, low-fat meat. It provides protein without excess fat. How can we, as US citizens, continue to consume chicken, but safely?

Many people are raising their own chickens for meat and eggs. Cities across the US are allowing their citizens to raise a small flock, even in the city limits. Raising hens is not difficult or time-consuming. Once you have the proper equipment, they pretty much take care of themselves!

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