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Chicken Contains Arsenic, Benadryl, Caffeine, Prozac and More Disgusting Stuff

After the caffeine, before the Prozac.

With all the fuss about Pink Slime and chemically enriched hamburgers,  I have heard some leanings towards poultry as a less-gross alternative. Well, it turns out that the two legged meat meal may not be any less tainted than the cow kind. Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times’ official bearer of bad news, dedicated this week’s column to exposing the rather horrifying results of a recent analysis of chicken feathers. What they found will probably disgust you.

Unless, that is, you like your chicken brined in Benadryl, with arsenic sauce.

The studies were conducted initially to test only for antibiotics. When the researchers learned that they could throw in a more detailed chemical analysis for free, they went ahead with it, and what they discovered was pretty shocking.

“We were kind of floored,” said Keeve E. Nachman, a co-author of both studies and a scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Center for a Livable Future.  “It’s unbelievable what we found.”

Arsenic: It turns out this is “routinely” given to animals to turn their meat a more appetizing pink color. Theoretically the levels of the poison are low enough to have no effect, or so they say as there has been no ill effect proven (yet).

Caffeine: Animals are fed green tea and “coffee pulp” (whatever that is) to keep them awake longer so they can eat more food and get bigger faster.

Benadryl: What goes up, must come down. Benadryl, Prozac, and Tylenol provide anxiety relief for the wired chickens. Otherwise, the poor birds might have tough meat and grow more slowly.

These chemicals were found in a disturbingly large number of factory farmed chickens: 90% for arsenic, more than half for caffeine, and about 30% for Benadryl. And many also contained antibiotics that are banned in poultry production because of their contribution to the creation of superbugs.

Apparently the responsibility here lies not with chicken farmers, but with the large corporations that employ them. These companies typically require farms to feed a proprietary mix, and the ingredients are not disclosed to the individual farmer.  As is often the case with these kinds of findings, we have no idea whether any of these chemicals make it into the human body, or what might happen if they did. Kristof adds:

The study looked only at feathers, not meat, so we don’t know exactly what chemicals reach the plate, or at what levels. The uncertainties are enormous, but I asked Nachman about the food he buys for his own family. “I’ve been studying food-animal production for some time, and the more I study, the more I’m drawn to organic,” he said. “We buy organic.”

Then he admits to being depressed by the whole culture of industrial farming. And wonders if he should have a piece of chicken…for the Prozac.

Read the whole article here.

 

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