When medical researchers at the University of Minnesota took more than 1,000 food samples from multiple retail markets, they found evidence
of fecal contamination in 69% of the pork and beef and 92% of the poultry samples. Nine out of ten chicken carcasses in the store may be contaminated with fecal matter. In fact, chicken carcasses are so covered in bacteria that researchers at the University of Arizona found
more fecal bacteria in the kitchen — on sponges and dish towels, and in the sink drain — than they found swabbing the toilet.
And yet despite all of this, Americans nonetheless consumed
around 60 pounds of chicken per person as of 2012. One can’t help but wonder how many pounds of chicken shit went into making up that figure.
Why are consumers in the U.S. eating fecal matter in the first place? Do they know about it, and simply lack concern? Or is ignorance perhaps to blame? It’s difficult to believe that any semi-rational person — American or otherwise — would continue to eat a product if they knew it contained fecal matter, especially once health concerns are taken into consideration.
Salmonella, for example, kills more Americans than any other food borne illness, with more than
100,000 Americans sickened annually by Salmonella-infected eggs. E.coli, another byproduct of factory farmed egg production, has been shown to cause organ failure
. And, according to Consumer Reports
magazine, the majority
of store-bought chickens were contaminated with Campylobacter, which can trigger arthritis, heart and blood infections, and a condition called Guillain-Barré syndrome that can leave people permanently disabled and paralyzed. Americans are quite literally putting their lives at risk, and all so they can savor the taste of a feces-covered chicken nugget.
If you’re feeling a little down by now because you just found out you’ve been eating poop without realizing it, don’t worry — you’re not alone. Joining hundreds of millions of Americans in gobbling down chicken poop are a similarly equal number of cows, who are fed what is referred to by the agricultural industry as “poultry litter”. What is poultry litter? According to a report
by Mother Jones
, it is detritus that gets scooped off the floors of chicken cages and broiler houses. Or, in other words, “it’s mainly a combination of feces, feathers, and uneaten chicken feed, but in addition, a typical sample of poultry litter might also contain antibiotics, heavy metals, disease-causing bacteria, and even bits of dead rodents.”
Poultry litter also tends to contain eaten or uneaten pieces of beef protein, which in a roundabout way means that factory farmers are turning cows into cannibals. A direct result of this is that prions — the infectious proteins that cause mad cow disease — continue to be cycled back into cattle feed, effectively completing the circuit
blamed for the spread of the disease.
Pigs, like cows, are also being subjected to obligatory cannibalism. An undercover investigation
by The Humane Society of the United States in early 2014 revealed that a pig farm in Owensboro, Kentucky, chose to deal with a viral outbreak by grinding up the intestines of piglets who succumbed to the virus and feeding them in “smoothie” form to mother pigs (sows). More troubling is that this was by no means a small operation, with more than 2,000 sows being fed the gruesome concoction.
In light of such revelations, is it really any wonder why study after study shows meat produced in factory farms to be wholly unhealthy? A 2009 study
found that children who consumed the most protein from animal sources entered puberty about seven months earlier than those who consumed the least. A study
published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research
in 2011 revealed excessive egg consumption — 2.5 eggs or more per week — in men can increase the odds of developing an extremely lethal form of prostate cancer. Harvard researchers in late 2013 found
that meat and dairy can alter microbes in the gut and boost the risk of inflammation and disease. And a report
from the Natural Resources Defense Council revealed that 26 of 30 antibiotics approved for use in livestock feed failed the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) own safety tests, yet are still in use. “The FDA continues to knowingly allow the use of drugs in animal feed that likely pose a ‘high risk’ to human health,” said Carmen Cordova, a microbiologist and lead author of the report. “That’s a breach of their responsibility and the public trust.”
And it’s not just the FDA, but also the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which has chosen to take the interests of corporations into consideration over those of the taxpayer. In September 2013, The Washington Post
reported that the USDA is planning to expand a pilot program
where meat packing production lines see an increase in speed and, instead of using government inspectors, use inspectors hired privately. Yet three of the plants in the pilot program were among the 10 worst offenders in the country for health and safety violations, with serious lapses that included failing to remove fecal matter from meat, according to a report by none other than the USDA itself. This on its own should be more than proof enough that not only the private sector is willing to sell you crap, but so is the government.
In fact, the government is going out of its way to protect the meat industry through the creation and passage of so-called "ag-gag" laws
, which make it a crime for anyone to enter a factory farm with the intention of taking photographs for exposure. These laws are being lobbied for by a variety of corporations
involved in the production of meat, and have largely been motivated by an onslaught of undercover investigations over the last several years that have spread across the internet
and severely damaged meat sales
by exposing disgusting conditions and utterly inhumane treatment of sentient animals
One such investigation found
pigs left to suffer with untreated open sores, piglets tossed around like a ball and described as “bouncy”, and hens left to rot away in grime-crusted cages. Another investigation uncovered
farm workers beating cows with crowbars, stabbing them with pitchforks, and punching them in their heads. And yet another, as described by Rolling Stone
piglets having their tails and testicles snipped off without a numbing agent.
The good news is that meat consumption in the U.S. has been declining
for nearly a decade, according to the market research firm Packaged Facts. About 12% of U.S. adults strongly agree and 19% somewhat agree that “they are eating many meatless/vegetarian meals,” says David Sprinkle, publisher of Packaged Facts.
Such a decline in meat consumption shouldn’t be all too surprising. Most people don’t want to partake in animal cruelty, whether it’s against pigs and cows or dogs and cats. Most people don’t want to consume hormones and antibiotics. Most people don’t want to put themselves at a greater risk for contracting E.coli, Salmonella, and a host of cancers. And most people certainly do not want to be eating shit.