Author: Eugene Sung
The average American eats approximately 2,000 pounds of food each year. Out of those 2,000 pounds, we consume 110 pounds of red meat, 62 pounds of beef, 46 pounds of pork and 73.6 pounds of poultry. Unfortunately, with large corporations controlling a vast amount of our food source, we need to be more diligent in educating ourselves about where our food is coming from and how it’s prepared. Below is a list of appalling facts regarding the meat industry that I hope will raise more awareness and assist you in being a smarter shopper.
1) Antibiotics: Roughly 30 million pounds of antibiotics are given to American animals raised for meat. Conversely, approximately 7-8 million pounds of antibiotics are given to humans each year. Unfortunately, the bacteria found in animals are adapting to the antibiotics and ‘superbugs’ are now being discovered in our meat. An example of this can be found in a 2011 study that revealed 74% of raw chicken samples contained antibiotic-resistant salmonella bacteria versus 48% of raw chicken samples back in 2002. Furthermore, researchers discovered that half of the US supermarket meat sampled had staph infection bacteria, including the hard to kill MRSA bacteria. What’s even scarier is anyone can buy antibiotics in a farm store without having proper medical training.
2) Antidepressants: A recent Johns Hopkins study analyzed the feathers of imported chicken and uncovered a disturbing finding. Traces of antidepressants (along with antibiotics, allergy medication and pain killers) were discovered in these chickens. Antidepressants are believed to be given to animals to reduce stress and anxiety in order to prevent slow growth.
3) Ivermectin: Iver what?? Ivermectin is a broad spectrum anti-parasitic agent that is used as a de-worming agent in animals. In 2010, a Chicago based food company recalled thousands of pounds of meat that may have been contaminated with Ivermectin. A similar recall was ordered by a Miami company as roughly 6,200 pounds of frozen beef may have contained this agent.
4) Flunixin: Flunixin is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is commonly given to cattle and pigs for muscle pain, joint pain and to alleviate fevers and pain. In 2011, a dairy operation in California failed a residue test, as one of its cows was found to have more than 4 times the limit of the tolerance level. Flunixin, as with all NSAIDs, can lead to kidney damage, stomach and colon ulcers and blood in the stool.
5) Arsenic: The FDA recently admitted that chicken meat sold in the states contains arsenic, a known carcinogen. More importantly, FDA research shows that the arsenic found in chicken feed ends up in chicken meat, which ends up in us (I’m looking at you Chik-Fil-A)! Why would farmers give their chickens a known carcinogen as part of their food? Well, the idea is that arsenic helps chickens grow faster and helps control a common intestinal disease (coccidiosis).
6) Chicken Poop: Yes, you read that correctly. Chicken feces. A 2009 LA Times article highlighted the common practice of feeding chicken feces and other poultry farm waste to cattle. 1-2 million TONS of chicken litter (which consists of feces, spilled chicken feed, feathers, poultry farm detritus) are given to cattle every year. Scientists argue that using chicken litter is a catalyst for mad cow disease and that even a tiny amount of ruminant from the spilled chicken feed and feces can cause an infection.
What can YOU do? One simple solution is to consume less meat. You can still get plenty of protein from non-meat sources, such as lentils. A cup of cooked lentils provides 17 grams of protein, compared to 25 grams for meat. If that’s out of the question, then opt for organic meat and grass-fed beef with the American Grassfed label. If you really want to go all out, visit Local Harvest to find antibiotic-free meat from local farmers in your area.
Post reprinted with permission from the author.
About the author: Eugene Sung is a chiropractic physican based in Los Angeles. His specialties are evidence-based protocols for musculoskeletal injuries and nutrition therapy. He can be reached here.