Some mass-poultry-factory-farm news to report:

A disagreement among poultry producers is raging about the “plumping” practices that are employed to make the meat tastier and more tender. The debate on whether chicken injected with salt, water and other ingredients can be promoted as “natural” has prompted federal officials to consider changing labeling guidelines.

Current USDA rules maintain that if a chicken wasn’t flavored artificially or preserved with chemicals, it could carry the word “natural” on the package. Approximately one-third of chicken meat sold in the U.S. are injected with additives that could represent up to 15 percent of the meat’s weight, doubling or tripling its sodium content. Poultry producers consider this “enhancing” the taste of the chicken.

The two largest chicken processors, Pilgrim’s Pride and Tyson Foods, are among those that affix “natural” labels to chicken injected with extra salt and water. Industry experts said the practice has become more common in the past decade.

Perdue, the nation’s third largest poultry producer, and Foster Farms, are among those poultry producers pushing for a change to labeling rules. Some of these companies sell marinated products that have added salt – but claim that it is clear to consumers on the label. The problem with injection is the customer can’t tell what’s in their chicken.

California Sen. Barbara Boxer weighed in on the issue earlier this year, calling in a press conference for the USDA to “immediately prevent sodium injected chicken from using the ‘natural’ label and require all poultry producers to identify added ingredients in print large enough to ensure that consumers can make informed choices.”

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service plans to issue new proposed rules this fall.

As a vegetarian since the age of 6, I don’t even know what chicken tastes like. But I’m sure home raisers of free-range, homegrown chicken know that all of this is just pointless when the chicken is raised right. The reason why these poultry producers need to add salt and other additives is because their meat is chewy nothingness and the birds probably have never eaten anything beyond corn or even been in the sunlight. It’s all rather sad and to my mind – a stupid debate. There needs to be a focus on why the meat needs to be enhanced in the first place. If you probe further behind this issue, you will find that the inhumane conditions and the unsustainable mass-raising of these animals should be the real debate.

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Jordanne grew up as a farm girl living in the most unlikely of places -- the concrete jungle sprawl of Los Angeles. She lives on the Urban Homestead where she shares her life with a wacky and always entertaining menagerie of goats, ducks, chickens, cats, bees, and stray animals that land up on her porch. Her passions are the natural and sustainable care of animals and her knowledge lies in successfully integrating "farm" animals into the city lifestyle. Jordanne also contributes to her family's blog called Little Homestead in the City -- chronicling this bizarre, beautiful, and often hilarious journey they're on.

3 COMMENTS

  1. I grew up on a chicken farm and we raised 7-10,000 chickens at one time. We got them when they were a day old and sold eggs commercially. I know that many chickens sounds like a lot to a lot of people, but it isn’t big for a chicken farm.

    We ate the layers that were too old to be productive and never needed to “enhance” them with brine and certainly didn’t add water to the flesh to make it “tender”. That is meerly a way to add weight and rob the consumer. If I wanted to buy water, it is a lot cheaper out of my tap than at $3-4 a pound we are forced to pay for chicken and that of course includes paying freight for shipping not just the chicken but their water.

    Additives should NEVER be allowed for ANY kind of food as the only reason they inject water is 100% profit oriented and has nothing to do with “enhancing” the quality of the meat. We can tell water is added to nearly ALL meat as it stands in the container and runs out of the meat and evaporated during the cooking anyway. They aren’t fooling anyone but are allowed to get away with falsifying the weight by the government and to cover up the thieft, they call it “enhancemnet or tenderizing”, which is a bald face lie.

    They should have to call it what it is and we shouldn’t have to pay the “goose” price to fill their bottom line. There is nothing wrong with the meat that chewing won’t cure.

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