Industrial eggs and chicken meat carry an unacceptably high risk of pathogen contamination because of Big Ag’s poultry production methods. Raising your own chickens can greatly reduce your exposure to salmonella, E. coli and other deadly bacteria. Giving your birds a more natural life will allow your family to enjoy healthier eggs and meat.
Campylobacter bacteria contaminates up to 88 percent of meat produced through industrial chicken farming.
Photo By Fotolia/branex
Once upon a time, before industrial agriculture began keeping tens of thousands of genetically super-charged chickens in huge barns, we rarely had to fear that our eggs and chicken might be contaminated with salmonella, campylobacter, Escherichia coli (E. coli) and other sometimes deadly pathogens. Many people, even in the city, were raising chickens. Sunny-side-up eggs seldom made us ill. There were small risks before, but nothing like we have now.
Today, salmonella often lurks inside industrial eggs and campylobacter bacteria are found on up to 88 percent of chicken meat because the U.S. industrial system stresses poultry in multiple ways, including those listed below, making chickens less able to resist infections:
Poultry scientists have known for decades that these intensive, inhumane practices contribute to an increased presence of pathogens in industrial eggs and meat. A 2006 study in the Journal of Food Protection confirmed that “free-range chickens on family farms are exposed to more diverse microflora than are chickens raised at commercial farms, and therefore acquire a wider array of microorganisms, including microbes that are inhibitory to campylobacters."
Taxpayer money is now being spent to convince us that visitors should wear special suits and “disinfect” their shoes and vehicle tires before they enter poultry facilities, including backyard coops. And the federal regulatory agencies, often unduly influenced by the fears of Big Ag, have recently proposed requirements that certified organic chickens be given access to outdoor space, but that the space must be fenced and covered to prevent contact with wild birds, as a way, they believe, to reduce contamination of eggs after hens come into contact with wild bird feces.
Continuing to try to protect highly stressed chickens from microbes — instead of breeding birds that are strong enough to fend off disease and raising chickens using more natural, less-stressful production systems — is not the right course, folks. If you're concerned about this wrong-headed proposal for chicken production, let your elected officials know how you feel.
Read more: Interested in raising your own chickens for meat? Check out Raising Broiler Chickens for more information on choosing the right breeds, feeds and more.
Cheryl Long is the editor in chief of MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine, and a leading advocate for more sustainable lifestyles. She leads a team of editors which produces high quality content that has resulted in MOTHER EARTH NEWS being rated as one North America’s favorite magazines. Long lives on an 8-acre homestead near Topeka, Kan., powered in part by solar panels, where she manages a large organic garden and a small flock of heritage chickens. Prior to taking the helm at MOTHER EARTH NEWS, she was an editor at Organic Gardening magazine for 10 years. Connect with her on Google+.
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