When it comes to your health, you have to be able to trust the provider of the food you eat. But you can’t trust food producers to accurately represent their products because they have a vested interest in convincing you to buy. So when it comes to any food, and in this case chicken, knowing the whole story could change your mind on its safety and its presence in your diet.
There are several reasons chicken—and especially mass-produced chicken—might not deserve a place on your plate. Here are 5 reasons to re-consider chicken:
1. Arsenic – As I reported just a few weeks ago, arsenic in chicken is an ongoing concern. Just when we think the government has stepped up regulations to keep meat arsenic-free, we learn about another source. Now, it’s an arsenic-producing drug used in chicken production. While Pfizer pulled the drug, Roxarsone, another came to take its place. It’s called Nitarsone and contains inorganic arsenic. It is used to make chickens grow faster and resist parasites, but its unintended effects could be detrimental to your health.
2. It might not be chicken at all – If your idea of chicken involves nuggets, you may be surprised to learn that what you’re eating is only partially chicken meat. Blood vessels, bones, connective tissue, nerves, and other dog food ingredients made up about half of the nuggets tested in one study.
3. Salmonella – Consumers are commonly told that cooking their chicken to 165° F will kill salmonella, but some experts say strains like Heidelberg salmonella are too dangerous for people to be fighting in their kitchens. Salmonella is spread through poor sanitary conditions in meat preparation. When spread to humans, it can be fatal. One October outbreak of an antibiotic-resistant strain of salmonella hospitalized 42% of everyone who ate it—almost 300 people across 18 states.
4. E. coli – An estimated 87% of chicken test positive for E.coli before they are sent to stores. This bacteria is even more dangerous than salmonella and depends on your food preparation skills to eliminate it in the cooking process.
5. Chinese Chicken – Recently, President Obama approved chicken produced in China to be sold in the US without a “country of origin label”. While the animals will be raised and slaughtered in USDA approved facilities in the US and Canada, they’ll then be sent to China for processing before being sent back here for sale. If freshness isn’t a concern, maybe quality controls are – no USDA official will be on site at the Chinese processing facilities. Instead, representatives from the companies themselves will “self-verify” that the food is handled properly before sending it back to be sold to you.
Suggestions? Cook chicken safely to kill bacteria, limit chicken consumption as a whole, and purchase organic chicken whenever possible.