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News 1416 views 2 commentsupdate:Mar 9, 2016

NCC refutes US blog posting on broiler production

Tom Super the vice-president of communication for the National Chicken Council in the US, has responded to a post by Deena Shanker which appeared in the September 16th edition of Salon, which is directed to the Washington political milieu.

The item entitled Chicken is killing the planet was replete with inaccuracies about broiler production in the US, including a supporting  image of a red-feathered egg production pullet in an article which purports to describe the broiler industry, writes Simon Shane.

In his lead-in, Super notes that uninformed citizen-journalists are now dominating commentary and data which appears each day in voluminous quantities in blogs and newsletters dealing with food and agriculture.  The inaccuracies and bias incorporated in these articles generates a false image of commercial-scale production and creates confusion, doubt and uncertainty among consumers.


The article by Shanker contained typical anti-industry rhetoric and denoted a lack of understanding of broiler production and personal bias which is inconsistent with good journalistic practice.

Tom Super had to refute a number of misconceptions and inaccuracies which included:-
• Broilers are not reared in cages
• The only antibiotics currently used in broiler production are approved by the FDA and leave no residues. Given current established knowledge of the epidemiology and  molecular biology of poultry and human pathogens these approved compounds have not been proven to contribute to the emergence of antibiotic resistance.
• Broilers no longer receive arsenicals in feed.  Previously an organic arsenical was fed but this did not result in detectable residues in poultry meat neither did the organic arsenical excreted by broilers contribute to elevated levels of inorganic arsenic in soil.
• Further- processing of broilers includes mechanically separating residual meat adhering to broiler carcasses. This process which optimizes the yield of protein has no relationship to Advanced Meat Recovery which is used in the beef industry.  Mechanically separated poultry is cooked and is free of bacteria.  There is no treatment with any chemical including ammonium hydroxide.
• There is no evidence that employees in processing plants are subject to higher rates of occupational injury compared to other industries based on data assembled by OSHA.
• Despite the claim to the contrary, wages for processing plant workers in Alabama are in fact higher than comparable low-skilled occupations.
• The safety and quality of broiler meat is effectively monitored by the USDA-FSIS.  The HMIP inspection system has been shown to be superior to traditional organoleptic inspection which does not take into account microbiological contamination.

The frequency of misrepresentations and reiterations of falsehoods in blogs which have a decidedly anti-industry tone are growing in intensity. The AEB, the UEP, the NCC and the NTF have all posted factual information on their respective websites. Professional journalists have been afforded the opportunity to visits farms, hatcheries, processing plants and other facilities to observe good production practices.  Unfortunately a lie when frequently repeated becomes the truth. The Web provides pseudo-journalists with the opportunity to disseminate copy which contributes to the perpetuation of falsehoods degrading the image of all segments of the poultry industry including egg production.

Source: Egg-Cite

Simon Shane

2 comments

  • E K Silbergeld

    I appreciate your concern to correct popular misconceptions about broiler production. As a researcher in this area for the past 12 years, I urge you to avoid similar issues. Broilers may or may not continue to receive arsenicals in feeds; this is a voluntary matter (only regulated by law in my state of Maryland). However, it is false to claim that past or present use of arsenicals does NOT result in arsenic accumulation in flesh. I assure that the toxicokinetics of arsenicals provides ample evidence that chronic exposures result in accumulations in specific organs, and this has been recognized by FDA. Second, data from OSHA and the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that injury rates in poultry processing and meat packing are among the highest in all US industrial workforces. Third, there are substantial concerns about HMP and HACCP as currently enforced in terms of their efficacy in identifying food safety issues. These have been raised recently by researchers as well as agencies. Finally, there is a substantial body of scientific opinion, based on extensive resarch in the US and other countries to associate antibiotic use in feeds with emergence and transmission of drug resistance and human exposures via food and other routes of exopsure.

    If we can sensibly about the knowledge base, we will all be able move forward more appropriately.

  • E K Silbergeld

    I appreciate your concern to correct popular misconceptions about broiler production. As a researcher in this area for the past 12 years, I urge you to avoid similar issues. Broilers may or may not continue to receive arsenicals in feeds; this is a voluntary matter (only regulated by law in my state of Maryland). However, it is false to claim that past or present use of arsenicals does NOT result in arsenic accumulation in flesh. I assure that the toxicokinetics of arsenicals provides ample evidence that chronic exposures result in accumulations in specific organs, and this has been recognized by FDA. Second, data from OSHA and the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that injury rates in poultry processing and meat packing are among the highest in all US industrial workforces. Third, there are substantial concerns about HMP and HACCP as currently enforced in terms of their efficacy in identifying food safety issues. These have been raised recently by researchers as well as agencies. Finally, there is a substantial body of scientific opinion, based on extensive resarch in the US and other countries to associate antibiotic use in feeds with emergence and transmission of drug resistance and human exposures via food and other routes of exopsure.

    If we can sensibly converse about the knowledge base, we will all be able move forward more appropriately.

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