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5 Reasons to Rethink Chicken

Elizabeth Renter
December 2nd, 2013
Updated 05/07/2014 at 1:11 pm
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chicken plate contaminated 263x166 5 Reasons to Rethink ChickenWhen 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.

From around the web:

  • Resident of the Unit

    Send the chicken to China.


  • greysurfer

    Salmonella is always present in chickens, in small doses and is killed by thorough cooking. I can’t think of any that are thermophilic (love high temperatures). As for E.coli, well that’s ubiquitous, in the environment, on your clothes, in water; but still bumped off by proper cooking.
    And if it’s true that America is sending its chicken-meat to China, for it to come back again, then you must all be nuts to eat it. Don’t you have any local chicken suppliers left?

    • celiayounger

      yep, i know a lady that sends American chicken to Cuba, China, Russia etc… many countries. what don’t make sense is that WE import chicken from China.

  • RealityCheck

    Um, exactly how can connective tissue and blood vessels be separated from the meat? Of course meat contains those things. What did you think it was?

    Contains dog food ingredients? What’s in dog food? Meat? Corn? Wheat? Carrots?

    Salmonella and Escherichia Coli are both killed in high heat. It is really disingenuous to imply otherwise. Yes, I know you didn’t specifically state that heat won’t kill them but isn’t that what you wanted to lead a causal reader to believe?

    Can you please cite the source for your claim in #5? That doesn’t even make sense. Not logistically. Not financially.

    • CWDJR

      Try politically. Or greed.

    • Eric S

      Did you miss the part that said “half”? When I eat a piece of chicken meat, yeah I expect some of those things to be a part of the muscle tissue, but not close to 50%. Other dog food ingredients would include any other chicken bits most people would not eat, like say beaks.