News and analysis on the global poultry
and animal feed industries.

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.

Avian flu not behind the cage-free egg purchase pledges

Article about Kroger’s decision to launch a co-packed Kroger brand of cage-free eggs misstates who is really behind the cage-free egg purchase pledges.
Kroger is the second largest seller of groceries in the U.S., trailing only Walmart, and when they announced that they were launching Kroger brand cage-free eggs it makes news. At least one popular press article about this announcement really misses the target when trying to explain what is driving Kroger's move.
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Tyson video shows poultry welfare requires training, feedback

Undercover videos are selectively edited, but this one contains a few learning opportunities for poultry companies.
Poultry producers need to rethink the kind of feedback that is given to crews that handle live birds at all stages of their operations and pay particular attention to areas where injury to birds doesn’t result in significant economic loss.
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‘McPicture’ of cage-housed hens not accurate for US

McDonald's may need to better educate its public relations team on what modern cage housing looks like
Because of its size and the high visibility of its brand, McDonald’s has become a target for just about every activist group out there. The resulting public relations smear campaigns have resulted in the fast food giant making several changes in its purchasing practices for items as diverse as eggs, coffee, chicken meat and packaging materials.
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Slow-growing broilers provide welfare goals for growers

Mortality and condemnation rates are at all-time lows for U.S. broiler producers, but so-called slow-growing chicken strains in Europe are doing even better.

Purposely selecting a breed of chickens because it grows slower seems like the least economically “sustainable” business model that I can imagine. But, with the interest Whole Foods has shown in slow-growing chickens here in the U.S. and the successful niche markets for these birds in France, the Netherlands and the U.K, I was really curious about what Claude Toudic with Hubbard France could tell us about these strains of chickens and the market for them in the Europe.

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US consumers still prefer cheaper cage-produced eggs

The big question is how much longer grocery shoppers will have a choice of the type of eggs they buy
With the tsunami of cage-free egg purchase pledge announcements this year, you might think U.S. egg producers would be struggling to meet the surging demand for cage-free eggs, but that isn’t the case.
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The Salmonella conundrum for egg producers continues

FDA director says the percentage of in-house environmental samples that are positive for SE has declined, but the rate of human illnesses attributed to eggs hasn’t improved.
Out of 1,355 FDA inspections of U.S. registered egg farms, only 10 farms received warning letters from the agency, John Sheehan, director, division of dairy, egg and meat safety, CFSAN, FDA, reported.
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Counting the absurdities in the Oxfam poultry report

Advocacy group’s 'research' of working conditions in poultry processing plants is fatally flawed with statements that are so easily refuted that they should be ashamed of themselves.
“In our interviews and review of industry research, there is not one report of a line worker getting paid time off, including personal time, vacation days, or sick days,” states the Oxfam report, Lives on the line.
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6th freedom is the real problem with cage-free hens

Animal welfare advocates espouse the five freedoms, but it is the sixth freedom that cage-free hens exercise that causes food safety concerns.
There are five freedoms that animal welfare advocates say need to be provided to animals; freedom from hunger and thirst; from discomfort; from pain, injury or disease; from fear and distress; and to express normal behaviors. When housing laying hens cage-free, it is the freedom to express normal behaviors that leads to the most problems.
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Rapid broiler growth is sustainable and not inhumane

Wall Street Journal article on the slow-growing broiler market strikes out when it comes to economics.
I generally enjoy the Wall Street Journal’s coverage of agriculture and the poultry industry, but I was unpleasantly surprised by some things written in a recent article on the expanding market for “slow-growing” broilers.
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Cage-free purchase pledges not the egg buyers' fault

It has never been the primary responsibility of retailers and restaurant chains to explain and defend animal husbandry practices
The Egg Industry Center Issues Forum in Chicago April 20-21, brought together egg producers, trade association representatives, some researchers and even a few activists and representatives from McDonald's, and, as expected, the hot topic was cage-free egg purchase pledges. It isn't an exaggeration to say that the HSUS representative at the forum was the only person who was smiling throughout the two days of presentations and discussions.
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Iowa lab finds no SE-positive eggs in 4 years of tests

No egg samples submitted in past four years by egg producers for testing by the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Iowa State were contaminated with Salmonella enteritidis.
The largest egg recalls in U.S. history just happened to coincide with the implementation of the FDA’s Egg Safety rule in summer 2010. While many egg producers were already operating under state or voluntary Salmonella prevention programs prior to 2010, the nationwide implementation of FDA’s rule seems to have had a positive impact on Salmonella enteritidis (SE) incidence in layer houses and in eggs.
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