Chicken Scratch: Poultry Juice, Pathogens, and a New Right to Farm?

August 15, 2014

Chicken Scratch is an ASPCA Blog feature that highlights interesting news about farm animals and farm animal welfare.

Image courtesy of Compassion in World Farming

  • This makes us sick! The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) new poultry inspection program will not require plants to test for Salmonella and Campylobacter.  As reported in a Food Safety News opinion piece, the agency “will leave it up to the company to decide what organism to test and which pathogen to test for, leaving the public with no guarantee that poultry plants will test for the pathogens that actually make people sick.
  • “We gotta fight…for the right…to faaarrrrm!” More like a right to harm. A controversial ballot initiative just barely passed in Missouri, making farming a statewide constitutional right. The change could potentially exempt Big Ag from future regulations, affecting food safety and the way animals are raised for food. A recount may happen, so cross your tail feathers and we’ll keep you posted on what happens next.
  • Despite increasing interest in, and demand for, farm-to-table fare, many small-scale farmers aren’t making a living. In an op-ed in The New York Times, one young farmer writes that a whopping “93% of all farm households rely on multiple sources of income,” creating a constant source of financial and emotional stress for many in the field.  The farmer also stresses the importance of shifting subsidies from factory farms to family farms to “ensure that growing good food also means making a good living.”
  • A new study sponsored by the USDA examined consumer safety behavior when shopping for poultry and the findings were flat out gross! Evidently, “most people do not use the plastic bags intended to carry raw meat products nor the sanitizing solution intended to mitigate the spread of harmful bacteria,” both of which are provided in stores. Poultry juices can contaminate anything, from your shopping cart to your kid! Unfortunately, retail raw chicken tends to have high pathogen rates, no surprise given the stressful and dirty conditions in which the birds are forced to live.
  • “A force with which to be reckoned” is how Politico recently characterized the possible trajectory of the ASPCA’s farm animal advocacy work! Reposted by the Organic Consumers Association, the piece features farm animal welfare campaign member Daisy Freund, and our CEO, Matt Bershadker, discussing our increased focus on farm animals, specifically our work on broiler chicken issues, and our commitment to maintaining “a balanced approach” to the farm animal welfare issue.
  • The USDA’s recent controversial proposal to increase poultry processing line speeds brought to light a multitude of problems associated with the chicken industry including bacterial contamination and selective breeding for unhealthy traits. One of our farm animal welfare team members, Suzanne McMillan had a letter to the editor published in The Washington Post  explaining that despite the industry’s “dangerous obsession with speed and profit… bigger and faster is not always better when it comes to raising animals.”