Are You Chicken to Learn About Chicken?
The Unhealthy White Meat and Eggs
Consumption of chicken has increased dramatically in the last twenty years and the average North American eats over fifty pounds of chicken each year, which is twice the amount that was consumed twenty years ago. Most people see chicken as a really “healthy” alternative to beef, and as a low-fat and wholesome part of their diet. If you add the fact that chicken is cheap, versatile and fast, the unassuming bird seems to be the ideal entree. Meanwhile, the bird that is held in such high regard in our diets is responsible for over 1000 deaths and between 7 to 80 million illnesses each year in the US alone… not including the long running diseases caused by a broken down immune system over time, acidity, blood platlets sticking together to form clots, and plaque build-up.[i]
From organic free range farms and regular factory farms, chicken is far from wholesome.Time magazine has called chicken one of the most dangerous items in the American home. Recent reports tell us that over 30 percent of U.S. chicken is contaminated with salmonella, and 62 percent is contaminated with campylobacter. These two pathogens cause 80 percent of the illnesses and 75 percent of the deaths associated with meat consumption, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The chickens we eat are overweight, overgrown, and unhealthy. Yet people happily throw buffalo wings, chicken breasts, drumsticks, and frozen dinners into their shopping carts, blind to the realities of eating the popular bird.
Organic Animal Products: Somehow people have become duped that a label stating “organic” means “healthy,” and that all other issues with eating chicken go away with this word. Many continue to justify eating chicken by adding the word organic. Organic is better for the animal, but any animal product inside of you, no matter how free range and organic it may be, is not healthy from the studies listed below. A few less toxins might be found in the meat if it is organic. But is organic acidity better for you? What about organic cholesterol, organic parasites, and organic plaque in your organs? Whether it is organic or not, chicken still takes a toll on your body to digest. It is not a nutrient dense food, it lowers your immune system, and it causes cancer cells to grow. Organic casein protein from dairy still makes you acidic, depleting calcium from your bones, and it still causes cancer. Be careful of new marketing spins, words, and techniques.
Is Chicken a Healthy Alternative to Beef?
Fears of cholesterol and high amounts of fat have caused more people to consume chicken more than ever before. People began eating more chicken and less red meat, believing that chicken was a healthier and smarter choice. Unknowing consumers will be surprised to learn that chicken is not a low-fat food. Even light, skinless chicken derives almost 18 percent of its calories from fat, and skinless, roasted, dark chicken is 32 percent fat! Reports show that the cholesterol content of chicken can be comparable to beef at 25 milligrams per ounce. Is this a lower-fat alternative? Depending on which cut of beef one compares to chicken it’s possible, but chicken is definitely not a low-fat food! Food marketing is big business and no different with chicken. They teach that it’s low in fat, low in cholesterol, and healthier than beef. Is this true? Not by a long shot.
Information is available contradicting the myths that chicken and turkey contain less cholesterol and that; reportedly, they represent a good option for those on a healthier diet. According to studies by Dean Ornish, M.D., from a five-year follow-up of patients on his popular vegetarian plan for reversing heart disease, compared with patients on the chicken and fish diet recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA), the majority following the AHA guidelines became progressively worse, while those who made intensive changes grew progressively better. So there goes the healthy option myth! Plant foods contain no cholesterol but all animal products always do. Animal products also contain no fiber. For every one percent increase in cholesterol levels, the risk of heart attack rises by two percent. For every 100 milligrams of cholesterol in the daily diet, the typical amount in a four-ounce serving of either beef or chicken, one’s cholesterol level typically zooms up five points. Unlike fat, cholesterol concentrates in the lean part of the meat. Many people seem to think the fat is the cholesterol mistakenly.
LOWER IN FAT?
An honest look at the nutritional value of chicken reveals that chicken meat is not low in fat and “not even close.” A 3.5-ounce piece of broiled lean steak is 56 percent fat as a percentage of calories, and chicken contains nearly the same at 51 percent (organic or not). Compare those amounts with the fat in a baked potato (one percent), steamed cauliflower (six percent), and baked beans (four percent), and any notions that chicken is a health food go out the window. Fancy packages can’t disguise the fact that chicken and all meats are muscles, and muscles are made of protein and fat. Also, the combination of fat, protein, and carcinogens found in cooked chicken creates troubling risks for colon cancer. Chicken not only gives you a load of fat you don’t want, its heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are potent carcinogens produced from creatine, amino acids, and sugars in poultry as well as other meats during cooking. These same chemicals are found in tobacco smoke and are 15 times more concentrated in grilled chicken than in beef. HCAs may be one of the reasons that meat-eaters have much higher colon cancer rates, at about 300 percent higher when compared to that of vegetarians.
Ian Coghill, Vice Chairman of the Environmental Health Office’s Food Safety Committee, says that chicken should carry a government health warning on the package, like cigarettes.
Consider this: Chickens may be fed the carcasses and byproducts of any other animals, including sheep (which may be infected with scrapie), cattle (which may be infected with BSE), and dead chickens (from disease) and chicken excrement.
In 1991, the Atlanta Constitution did a special report on the poultry industry. Of 84 federal poultry inspectors interviewed, 81 said that thousands of birds tainted or stained with feces—which a decade ago would have been condemned—are now rinsed and sold daily. Seventy-five of the inspectors said that thousands of diseased birds pass from processing lines to stores every day. Poultry plants often salvage meat, cutting away visibly diseased or contaminated sections and selling the rest as packaged wings, legs, or breasts, according to 70 inspectors. Richard Simmons, inspector at a ConAgra plant, said, “Practically every bird now, no matter how bad, is salvaged. This meat is not wholesome. I would not want to eat it. I would never, in my wildest dreams, buy cut-up parts at a store today.”
And just listen to USDA Inspector Ronnie Sarratt: “I’ve had birds that had yellow pus visibly coming out of their insides, and I was told to save the breast meat off them and even save the second joint of the wing. You might get those breasts today at a store in a package of breast fillets. And you might get the other in a pack of buffalo wings.” Previously, inspectors used to condemn all birds with air sacculitus, a disease that causes yellow fluids and mucus to break up into the lungs. In a 1989 article in Southern Exposure, USDA inspector Estes Philpott of Arkansas estimated that he was forced to approve 40 percent of air sac birds that would have been condemned 10 years ago.
Tony Moore of Joice and Hill broiler breeders was quoted as saying that chicken cancer (Marek’s disease) is responsible for the excessively high losses of chickens and, despite chickens being vaccinated against it as day-old chicks, mortality is increasingly significant. A rapidly increasing threat exists from Gumboro disease, a viral cancer, and on top of this, avian leucosis a bird variety of leukemia now commonplace. In fact, one American report found that, “Virtually all commercial chickens are heavily infected with leucosis virus.” Nonetheless, because the tumors are not grossly apparent until about 20 weeks of age, the virus is not economically as important as is the Marek’s disease virus, which induces tumors by six-eight weeks of age.
“Can chicken cancer spread to humans?” you might ask. It is quite possible as studies do seem to prove that malignant tumors and other cancers can spread from one species to another. It has been proven that acidity causes cancer cells to grow, and all animal products are acidic.
In some ways, the connection is really very simple. First, we know that some “meat producing animals” (especially cows and chickens) suffer from tumors and cancers. Second, we know that cancer can be transmitted by virus from one animal to another and indeed from one species to another. Third, cancerous and tumorous meats are not necessarily removed at the slaughterhouse and may quite easily find their way to the butcher’s shop. The inevitable conclusion drawn from all this is that if you eat meat, sooner or later you are likely to eat part of an animal that either has cancer or has been exposed to a virus that can cause cancer. It is difficult however to quantify the risk you would be running by eating tumorous meat because cancers can take many years to surface into readable size.
In food processing plants where workers process red meat as well as chicken, the chicken preparation areas are often cordoned off from the rest of the plant. The work there is carried out behind glass screens in a kind of quarantine, just in case bugs that thrive on and in chickens infect everything else. One of the most widespread of these bugs is salmonella. Almost every process of chicken production helps to spread bugs from one chicken to another until they finish inside the plastic wrappers. There is a danger when touching raw chicken that people can spread the infection elsewhere.
According to an article by Murry Cohen, M.D. and Allison Lee Solin of the PCRM, campylobacter, the most common cause of diarrhea in the United States, can sometimes lead to a paralysis-inducing disease called Gullain-Barré Syndrome, and salmonella, which causes severe food poisoning, can be fatal. They state that, according to 1997 tests conducted by the Minnesota Health Department, 79 percent of chickens sampled from supermarkets were infected with campylobacter, and 20 percent of those were infected with an antibiotic-resistant strain. About 58 percent of turkeys were infected, and 84 percent of those carried a resistant strain. With the introduction of quinolones for use in poultry, resistant strains of campylobacter are now appearing in the U.S., explains Stuart Levy, M.D., a physician with the Tufts School of Medicine. He described the antibiotic-resistance trend as an international public health nightmare.
In February 1999, the British medical journal The Lancet reported that scientists had discovered antibiotic-resistant bacteria in feed being given to chickens in the United States.
Kieswer of the PCRM argues that with live salmonella bacteria growing inside one in every three packages of chicken, chicken meat is making many people sick. Although deaths from salmonella poisonings sometimes make the evening news, millions more cases that cause flu-like symptoms go undetected and uncounted. Salmonella poisoning can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and low-grade fever, lasting for several days. When it spreads to the blood and other organs, it can be fatal and is for as many as 9,000 people every year. Also, campylobacter infects as many as two-thirds of all pre-packaged chicken. Salmonella and campylobacter have become increasingly common because modern factory farms crowd thousands of chickens into tightly confined spaces, where excrement and other forms of bacteria spread contaminants. As we have learned, chicken has the same amount of cholesterol as beef; four ounces of beef and four ounces of chicken both contain about 100 milligrams of cholesterol and the cholesterol from chicken similarly clogs arteries and causes heart disease. The human body produces cholesterol on its own and never needs outside sources. Each added dose contributes to artery blockages, which lead to heart attacks, strokes, and other serious health problems.
According to Dr Barnard of the PCRM, chicken (no matter if it is organic or not) looks harmless, but fancy marketing campaigns cannot disguise its shortcomings. Chicken may be lighter in color than beef, but your body cannot tell the difference. Chicken, like other animal products, contains hefty doses of cholesterol, fat, and animal protein. It leaves your body wanting fiber, vitamin C, and complex carbohydrates. When heated, chicken produces dangerous heterocyclic amines (HCAs) as creatine, amino acids, and sugar in chicken muscles interacts. HCAs—the same carcinogens found in tobacco smoke—are 15 times more concentrated in grilled chicken than in beef. The fat, animal protein, and carcinogens in cooked chicken creates risks for colon cancer. Moreover, poultry, like all meat, lacks any fiber to help cleanse the digestive tract of excess hormones and cholesterol.
In addition, you wouldn’t dream of consuming veterinary medicines, but in choosing chicken, you’re doing just that. Today’s farms increasingly operate much like factories. Unlike PCBs, which are slow to leave our bodies, chemicals from medicated feed and various veterinary compounds are eliminated when we stop eating meat. In comparison with the general population, vegetarian women have 98-99 percent lower levels of several pesticides as well as many other chemicals ingested by eating animal products.
In the U.S., in one of their biggest-ever meat recalls, agribusiness giant Cargill called back almost 17 million pounds of “ready-to-eat” turkey and chicken products. These meats were processed at Cargill’s Waco, Texas, plant between May and mid-December. The fear was possible contamination by the often-deadly bacteria listeria monocytogenes. Dr. Barnard, of the PCRM, argues that this development added an exclamation point to the end of 2000, a year already beset by a record-setting pace of more than 70 U.S. meat recalls.
According to Dr. Barnard, the latest problem, listeria, may not be the household name that salmonella is, or that E coli and campylobacter are fast becoming, but it’s depressingly familiar to emergency room personnel, who routinely see the human costs of food borne illnesses. With listeria, symptoms can often entail high fevers, severe headaches, neck stiffness, and nausea. Such symptoms can persist for days, even weeks. Listeria can also trigger miscarriages and stillbirths. Even with treatment, listeria kills fully one-fifth of those contracting it. Untreated, it kills 70 percent. Listeria strikes hardest at those with weakened or overtaxed immune systems, notably the elderly, the frail, pregnant women, newborn infants, diabetics, AIDS patients, cancer radiation and chemotherapy patients, and organ transplant recipients.
In fact, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported in 1989 that listeriosis exacts dire consequences. Infections in adults younger than 40 years proved fatal 11 percent of the time. In adults older than 60, the death rate was 63 percent. Women infected late in their pregnancies can pass the disease to their fetuses, later giving birth to children with infections of the central nervous system.
Scientists detected listeria in up to 70 percent of uncooked poultry and meat samples they collected from seven countries, according to studies published in the Journal of Food Proteinin 1989 and 1993. Those pieces snugly fit into the more general pattern. In instance after instance, food borne illness investigations show the culprit to have been either an animal product or contamination of food or water by feces from animal agriculture.
As long as meat is the center of our diets, food borne illness will remain a fact of life. As matters stand, estimates put U.S. food borne illness cases at 76 million per year, including 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,200 deaths, 500 of those from listeriosis. Even if pathogens such as listeria could somehow be eliminated, digestive-tract cancers, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and other debilitating illnesses would still make eating a sliced turkey sandwich, chicken salad, or hot dogs akin to wandering through minefields. Fortunately, we can avoid those hazards. One of the most attractive features of bananas, carrots, oatmeal, and veggie burgers is that they have no intestines where virulent bacteria and worms can incubate. They contain no cholesterol and very little fat![ii]
Eggs are the highest-ranking cholesterol product around. Eggs have 550 Milligrams of cholesterol per 100-gram portion.
Although, many consumers believe that labels such as free-range, free-roaming, or cage-free mean that these chickens spend their days in natural outdoor settings, the label means something entirely different to the egg industry. The nutritional value of egg whites is practically nothing. The whites have about half an egg’s protein content, yes, and almost all of its sodium. That’s pretty much it, barring trace amounts of other nutrients. Hens on commercial cage-free farms are not kept in cages, but they still have their sensitive beaks cut off with a hot blade and are crammed together in filthy sheds where they will live for years until their egg production wanes and they’re sent to slaughter. They never go outside, breathe fresh air, feel the sun on their backs, or do anything else that is natural or important to them. They suffer from the same lung lesions and ammonia burns as hens in cages, and they have breast blisters to add to their suffering.
- Chickens’ eggs are the byproduct of a chicken’s “menstrual” cycle. If fertilized, they would produce baby chicks.
- Male chicks are worthless to the egg industry, so every year millions of them are tossed into trash bags to suffocate or are thrown alive into high-speed grinders called “macerators.”
- Egg-laying hens are all eventually slaughtered for their flesh. Their weak and emaciated bodies are made into soup or dog and cat food, or they are fed back to other chickens.
- “Free-range” eggs are a marketing ploy—the free-range label is not subject to any USDA regulations, so “free-range” chickens endure miserable conditions, just as all animals used for food do.[iii]
We are told that stress helps creates disease, but what if we are eating the severe stress of another animal?
The typical, American breakfast is probably the worst meal choices we have. The typical breakfast in America, among other countries, consists of animal products, sugar, flour, or a combination thereof. Oatmeal, fruit, and some raw grain cereals are about the only healthy food that should be consumed at breakfast, if following traditional meal choices. Why not eat lunch or dinner items for breakfast that include more vegetables? Why do certain cereals lower cholesterol as the commercials say? They do so by substituting cereal for breakfast, instead of the other animal products you normally would consume. You could probably eat cardboard and have the same effect. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but you get the point.
Do not let people like Rachael Ray fool you. Cooking shows are entertaining. Many chefs think the meals they are cooking are healthy if the animal products are lower in fat. Compared to what? Make no mistake, the words “animal product” and “healthy” do not go together. Animal products will keep you alive on an island with no other food options, but the reason you eat them is for the patterned craving developed. Whether organic or free range, animal products have cholesterol, they are acidic, extremely hard to digest, and they are not the ideal nutrition our bodies need.