Nicholas Kristof on the Poultry Industry’s Medicine Cabinet

Thanks to the public outcry over pink slime, it’s been a devastating month for the beef industry. But it’s obvious that the cattlemen aren’t the only people with something to hide. New York Times’ columnist Nicholas Kristof reports:

…a pair of new scientific studies [suggest] that poultry on factory farms are routinely fed caffeine, active ingredients of Tylenol and Benadryl, banned antibiotics and even arsenic.

And that’s just the beginning. Factory farmers worldwide have apparently recognized that today’s chickens are stressed to the point that it adversely affects meat quality, so they’ve been giving the birds anything that could combat anxiety—anything, that is, apart from more spacious conditions. Chicken from China is even turning up containing Fluoxetine (Prozac).

The interesting thing here is that this stuff is being discovered without any comprehensive testing. Imagine what would happen if an animal rights group talked to a recently-bankrupted poultry farmer with no stake in the industry, who would offer tips on specific substances to test for. I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that since quite a few of these animal advocacy groups read this blog, at least one group will heed my advice. What a bombshell that could turn into.

While these new studies have failed to convince Kristof to give up chicken, he writes:

I used to be skeptical of organic, but the more reporting I do on our food supply, the more I want my own family eating organic — just to be safe.

Given that organic chicken easily costs double the price of factory farmed stuff, I’m all in favor of omnivores making this switch. Considering the tremendous price differential, the best thing that could happen to chickens everywhere is if demand for organic grows by leaps and bounds. Link.