Many people are concerned about healthier eating and are actively trying to reduce the amount of red meat in their diet. Chicken can provide an excellent substitute as it is naturally lower in saturated fats.
However, disturbing new reports indicate that we should be more worried about what the chicken on our plates actually ate.
A new study by the John Hopkins Center investigated the effects of certain drugs and feeds can have on the meat on your plate. The study was initially begun to study the effects of antibiotics, but since the additional tests for other chemicals would present no additional cost, the researchers decided to investigate the results. The results were startling, since the tests revealed caffeine, anthihistamines, antidepressants, banned antibiotics and arsenic.
While the results have not documented any “immediate health concern” for consumers, according to co-author of the study Keeve E Nachman. It does highlight “how comfortable” consumers should feel about the chemicals fed to the animals which are destined for your dinner table.
It is quite common for chickens to be routinely fed chemicals such as small quantities of arsenic to improve the appearance of the meat. According to industry estimates from 2011, nine out of ten chickens on the dinner table in the United States had been fed arsenic. There is no evidence that “low levels of arsenic” as documented in these studies poses a health risk, but it does make a number of industry experts uncomfortable.
Other chemicals found in the results of the study include antidepressants to reduce stress in the chickens. This is actually designed not to relieve any anxiety in the birds, but rather ensure that the meat is tender. There is evidence that stressed chickens have tougher meat. Caffeine and other stimulants are included to keep the chickens awake for longer to encourage them to eat more and grow larger.
With an estimated nine billion chickens raised in factory farms each year, it is highly likely that the chicken on your dinner table has been fed this type of feed. In fact, many farmers are unaware of the chemicals contained in their animal feeds, which is produced using feathers which have been rendered and other animal by-products, which recycle these chemicals back into the food chain. So, if you were considering chicken for dinner, you may want to think about what it was that the chicken ate during its lifetime.