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.