News and analysis for the global poultry industry.

Food Safety and Processing Perspective

Terrence O’Keefe, WATT’s content director, provides his perspective on everything from animal agriculture trends that impact our food chain to food-safety related issues affecting chicken and egg production. O’Keefe has covered the poultry industry as an editor for more than a decade and also brings his experience in plant management and poultry production to comment on today’s issues.

Anthropomorphism runs wild in latest Butterball undercover video

About 30 seconds into the latest Mercy for Animals “undercover video” of a Butterball turkey hatchery in Raeford, North Carolina, the narration attempts to draw a contrast between a poult being hatched in a hatchery versus being brooded by the hen.  “When they hatch, turkeys at this Butterball hatchery are roughly separated from their shells. Instead of the warm and comforting touch of their mothers, these baby birds are greeted with cold metal,” the narrator said.
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Broiler industry experts discuss progress to a feed conversion of 1.0

The questionposed to an international group of broiler producers, nutritionists andveterinarians was, “What needs to be done to get broiler feed conversion ratesdown to 1.0?” This question was sparked by a prediction from a Cobb-Vantressgeneticist that by 2050 it would be possible to raise a broiler to 4.4 pounds(2 kilograms) in 19 days with a feed conversion approaching 1.0. Attendees inthe international poultry discussion group at the Alltech Symposium were askedto participate in what was characterized as a “Yale style debate” and offertheir opinions on the subject.
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‘Fed Up’ film takes aim at sugar in processed foods

“Soda is the cigarettes of the 21st century,” according to the documentary film, "Fed Up," and “big sugar” and the soft drink companies are presented as the cause of the “obesity epidemic” that plagues the U.S. and many other parts of the world. I saw this film in its debut weekend and found it a compelling, if one-sided, discussion of the role that the film’s creators believe that added sugar in processed foods is playing in the fattening of America, particularly among children.
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'Farmland' film shows the human face of agriculture

I recently attended the only scheduled North Carolina showing of the documentary film, "Farmland." The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, who provided the financial backing to make the film, certainly got what they wanted: a 75-minute film that puts a human face on several types of farming operations spread out across all regions of the country.
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Are false health, food safety claims behind sales growth of organic foods?

The Organic Marketing Report recently released by Academics Review contains an analysis of more than 200 published academic, industry and government research reports into why consumers adopt organic product purchasing behaviors. The review concludes that:“Research studies clearly show that food safety and health concerns are the primary drivers of consumer organic purchasing. Further, research reveals that other factors, such as sustainability, environmental claims and even organic certification, do not motivate general consumers to purchase organic products in the absence of health risk claims. Research by USDA, the organic industry and independent academic organizations also confirms that the use of the USDA Organic Seal is critical to conveying confidence in organic labeling claims, which the majority of consumers mistakenly believe to mean healthier and safer food products.”
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Advocates say US meat, poultry workers denied basic human rights

Every time I think that activist nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have stooped as low as they possibly could, another one manages to lower the limbo bar another notch and slide beneath it. The latest affront to rational thought was conducted by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest when they asked for help for U.S. poultry and meat packing plant workers from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
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Will California egg consumers be able to sue HSUS?

On my recent visit to the Midwest Poultry Federation Convention, the supply of eggs for California in 2015 was a hot topic of conversation. There seems to be two schools of thought on what will happen in California after the January 1, 2015 implementation of Proposition 2. One group projects that California authorities will not be able to enforce state laws requiring that shell eggs brought into the state must meet Proposition 2 standards and this will result in a California marketplace with an ample supply of shell eggs and with California producers operating at a competitive disadvantage.
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Can Chick-fil-A’s cows make antibiotic-free chicken mainstream?

Chick-fil-A recently announced its intention to serve only chicken products from birds raised without antibiotics in all of its restaurants within five years. The company currently serves all white meat products processed from chickens that are conventionally raised, which means they may have received antibiotics at some point in their growing cycle.
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Consumer Reports not consistent when questioning motives

When I read the ConsumerReports’ article, "The high cost of cheap chicken,"on the testing organization’s latest sampling results for retail chickenproducts, I was struck by the lack of consistency in how opinions fromdifferent groups were presented. The article is quick to blame antibiotic use asa culprit in the presence of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics on thechicken sampled in the study, yet they do not share the resistance data for thebacteria collected from the chicken that was labeled “organic” or “noantibiotics.”
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