By LEAH ZERBE
Rodale.com July 8, 2012
Many chickens sold in
supermarkets are fed a steady diet of human drugs.
Think the pink slime
scandal is gross? There's even more unappetizing news, this time from the
poultry department. By testing feathers, researchers from Johns Hopkins
University found that "healthy chicken" sold in your supermarket could have
very well been raised on a steady diet of prescription, over-the-counter,
and even banned drugs.
The full implication of people eating chicken
containing these drugs isn't even known, although previous studies have
shown carcinogenic arsenic fed to chickens--something approved for use in
nonorganic chicken farming--does wind up in the meat.
In the study,
researchers tested feather meal, a by-product of chicken farming often used
as fertilizer, because feathers accumulate important clues as to which drugs
and chemicals chickens are exposed to during their short--usually about
The 15 Grossest Things Your Eating
The contaminated chicken
report is the latest in a string of findings suggesting the industrial food
system that supplies most supermarkets routinely engages in practices that
could put consumers at risk.
And this, the study's coauthor says, is
just the tip of the iceberg.
"There are a wide spectrum of public health, social justice, and
environmental concerns that stem from the way we raise animals for food,"
explains researcher Keeve Nachman, PhD, assistant scientist and director of
the Farming for the Future program at Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable
Future, part of the university's Bloomberg School of Public Health. "These
concerns range from the generation and transport of bacteria that are
resistant to antibiotics that are critical to human medicine, to the
disproportionate concentration of animal-production sites and their
associated air and water pollution in low-income communities of color, to
the overwhelming energy and water inputs required to grow and transport feed
for food animals."