In Wichita, Kansas, there’s a kitschy lip balm brand called Chicken Poop, with a cute disclaimer on the tube reading: “Contains no poop.” In grocery stores all over the country, nearly half of the chicken being sold isn’t as lucky as it is contaminated with chicken poop – the feces, not the lip balm.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) filed a petition on March 14 to implore the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to put fecal contamination warning labels on chicken products. When it comes to fecal contamination, the USDA obviously abides by a zero tolerance policy, but the policy is nothing more than an eyeball test. As long as inspectors can’t see any visible poop on the skin of the chicken, the birds get sent down the conveyor belt even though they’re stuffed with feces.
According to the PCRM report, a federal inspector said, “We often see birds going down the line with intestines still attached, which are full of fecal contamination. It is more than reasonable to assume that once the bird gets in to the chill tank, that contamination will enter the water and contaminate all of the other carcasses in the chiller. That’s why it is sometimes called ‘fecal soup.’”
It’s not as if these fowl are being foul just for the fun of it. The manner in which chickens are harvested and processed is egregious, and it appears as if when they are shredded and ripped apart for slaughter, the “stuff” literally hits the fan. So if the PCRM succeeds and warning labels are placed on chicken products, is anybody really going to buy poopy chicken? I’ll spare you the pu pu platter jokes, but feel free to make your own.
The fecal contamination problem is hardly the only scandal infecting the animal agriculture industry right now. Chicken and cows raised on factory farms are fed antibiotics, the bovine human growth hormone, and ground up remains of their fellow species. The animals on these farms are kept in tight, close quarters, moving only a few feet their entire lives. Conventional farms are also responsible for massive deforestation as well as air and water pollution.
If you want to consume the safest, healthiest, and responsibly raised meat, you need to buy certified organic. Organic farms employ ethical practices and treat their animals in a humane way. Organically raised animals aren’t forced to be cannibals, live in a free-range environment, graze at will, and use considerably less resources than a factory farm.
Until the U.S. Department of Agriculture cleans up this poopy, cannibalistic, and environmentally murderous factory farm mess, it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to buy a vegetarian cookbook.