Chickens 1950 VS. 2008

Photo: Food, Inc. Journalist Michael Pollan—a food expert featured in Food, Inc.—says mass food production is the American way. “We spend less on our food than any people who have ever lived, than any people anywhere on earth—9.5 percent of our income.”

A prime example of this is chicken—an animal Michael says has been re-engineered through breeding and diet to produce the breast meat consumers want. Compared to 50 years ago, chickens are now raised and slaughtered in half the time and grow twice as big.

In one way, Michael says this is a great achievement. “Chicken used to be this special occasion, Sunday night dinner. [It] was the expensive meat,” he says. “Now it’s the cheap meat.”

“But you have to understand there’s a price to that, and the price is you can only do it with lots of antibiotics,” Michael says. “You give all those antibiotics to your animals, they’re not gonna work for you when you need them.”

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One response to “Chickens 1950 VS. 2008

  1. Stan

    Antibiotic use in poultry production in the U.S. is divided into two main categories: therapeutic – used for disease treatment and sub-therapeutic – used for growth enhancement via disease prevention. The major therapeutic antibiotics include but are not limited to the fluoroquinolones, the tetracyclines, neomycin, bacitracin, and the potentiated sulfas.

    Three major aspects of grow-out must be considered in operations that remove antibiotics as well as ionophore anticoccidials: 1. Intestinal diseases such as necrotic enteritis and coccidiosis, 2. Food Safety with respect to increase in pathogen load in the processing plant, 3. Performance cost due to performance loss.

    The major disease in poultry production today that usually requires therapeutic treatment is secondary E.coli infections of the lower respiratory tract, and the most effective antimicrobial currently on the market for the treatment of secondary respiratory E. coli infections is enrofloxacin, a fluoroquinolone antibiotic. The other antibiotic products have lost most of their efficacy with respect to this particular disease.

    What sounded pretty far-fetched only a few years ago is steadily becoming reality for some mainstream poultry companies in the United States; that is, producing healthy, competitively priced chicken without the use of therapeutic and/or sub-therapeutic antibiotics

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