It may have been created as part of a protest and drive for a petition campaign against the proposed USDA’s “Filthy Chicken Rule”, but the spoof documentary “Is It Factory Fresh Chicken?” carries a disturbing truth message.
In fact, once viewed, if you ever eat another factory farmed
chicken, you’ll be sure to think about the video. The skit was created in the same parody as Portlandia’s “Is it Local?” and reveals harsh facts about factory farmed chicken in a comedic spoof.
The viewer is quickly educated about how the chicken they just ordered in a restaurant or fast food takeout line came to be part of their meal. There’s also a deeper and disturbing undertone of indifference about knowing how the food we eat was grown and processed.
The Unappetizing and Harsh Facts about Factory Farmed Poultry
The average chickens sold by the food service industry are provided by factory farms. In the tongue-in-check skit, the couple asks their server if the chicken they’re ordering is factory farmed as though it is a highly prized choice.
The server is very eager to share the details with the couple in the vein that this is a positive process. She first tells the couple that the chicken was raised on a factory farm where “the waste polluted the entire community”.
The couple is enthusiastic about this and the server becomes very animated as she continues to discuss how the chickens received a steady diet of antibiotics to ensure they grew plump very quickly. This delights the couple.
She quickly adds in a highly positive tone that the CDC has stated that this practice “leads to antibiotic resistance, which makes people sick”.
The couple is ecstatic about this news and encourages the server to continue. And so the short skit continues with other disturbing facts that the average person may be completely unaware of, such as:
–> 4 companies control 50% of the chicken produced in the US.
–> Factory farmed chickens never graze in open pastures.
–> Once slaughtered, the chickens are soaked in a vat of bleach to clean the chickens of their own excrement.
And the final selling point to the couple in the video is that the USDA has proposed to allow these companies to monitor themselves by giving them the power to conduct their own inspections. These self-inspections would be for the production lines that process 175 chickens per minute.
Self-Policing of Farmed Factory Chickens
The idea that the USDA, tasked with the protection of the country’s food source, would turn over their obligation and duty to the very companies they are monitoring and inspecting sounds like a page out of the insanity manual for the destruction of a society’s food system and subsequent health.
But, that’s exactly what has been proposed in the “Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection” regulation, dubbed the “Filthy Chicken Rule”. This rule would turn over the majority of poultry inspection to these corporations.
According to Eco Watch, the proposed rule would “decrease the number of USDA inspectors in poultry plants while increasing line speeds up to 175 birds per minute or three birds per second”.
It doesn’t require much imagination to envision the kind of inspection this would become. In fact, Eco Watch warns, that “in order to compensate for missed fecal contamination, the proposed rule would permit companies to use more anti-microbial chemicals to clean the poultry carcasses”.
In addition to the current doses of antibiotics and bleach, the consumer would also get harmful anti-microbial chemicals. These are the same chemicals that were recently cited as harmful and ineffective in fighting bacteria and banned from soap products by the FDA.
Regulation Still in Review and Status Requested
The regulation was proposed in 2011 and has been under review ever since.
In November 2013, the House Agriculture leaders inquired on the status of the rule via a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
The response came from USDA public affairs specialist Cathy Cochran FSIS (Food Safety Inspection Service). She stated that she didn’t know when the proposed rule would be under review at the Office of Management and Budget. She stated the FSIS was unable to predict this timeline or the one for implementation.
The letter went on to describe how the pilot program tested in 25 plants over a period of 14 years had outperformed traditional plants.
On the other side of the coin, The Washington Post reporter Kimberly Kindy has investigated the issue and written a series of articles about the proposed rule.
In October 2013, she reported that “the Government Accountability Office questioned the validity of the USDA’s findings, saying the department’s analysis was based on incomplete and antiquated data”.
According to Kindy, the new rule will mean that 40% of the USDA inspectors will be replaced with company employees. Her research revealed that by speeding up the process the result has been horrific animal cruelty.
In her October 29 report, Kindy writes, “Nearly 1 million chickens and turkeys are unintentionally boiled alive each year in U.S. slaughterhouses, often because fast-moving lines fail to kill the birds before they are dropped into scalding water, Agriculture Department records show”.
These birds couldn’t be sold and had to be destroyed since the pooled blood in the meat becomes a magnet to bacteria. She also explains how many of the birds are shackled so quickly and ruthlessly that their legs are broken in the process.
In addition to the health risks associated with poultry treated with bleach, antibiotics and anti-microbial chemicals, the inhumane treatment of these creatures is inexcusable. Regardless of the debates over federal regulations and the politics surrounding the controversy of factory farms, the ultimate decision and true power rests with the individual consumer.
The question is no longer whether or not the USDA should move forward with the proposed regulation. The real question is whether or not consumers will continue to purchase factory farmed poultry in grocery stores and restaurants after learning the truth about how these chickens are processed.