No matter where you look in the world, chicken seems to be the old standby for many staple meals. Well, it does look good on paper—anything branded as a great source of lean protein and having lower cholesterol and fat levels than red meat or pork seems pretty promising. However, behind the façade of being a diet and health-friendly option, there’s a more sinister truth hiding in plain sight. In reality, eating poultry like chicken or turkey is actually one of the most dangerous foods you could eat.
Of course, health experts have long admonished the general public of the dangers eating red meat poses: high in fat, links to heart disease and cancers, high in cholesterol. We all know that smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol to excess can shut down your system pretty horribly. So, take this for starters: These potentially life-altering problems happen even before you get the chicken from the market. According to the Marler Clark’s Food Safety News, 97% of commercial chicken is contaminated with bacteria that can make consumers very ill. Ninety-seven percent. And it’s not the bacteria that can “sometimes” be harmful—E. coli alone made up 65% of the ninety-seven. Others include Staphylococcus aureus (responsible for Staph infections), salmonella, and campylobacter. The best part is that none of this is borne from poor handling or packaging at the plant. This is all in the chicken itself. Even if you were lucky to get a pack of chicken breasts that wasn’t one of the 3%, would ever going back really be a risk you want to take?
Hey, men! Did you know that poultry is full of growth hormones that can actually cause you to grow breasts? That poultry is packed with antibiotics that can kill you in larger quantities. This is so that the chicken has a longer shelf life and so they’re tastier to boot. No one wants to buy some shriveled-up, skimpy-looking Thanksgiving turkeys or chicken thighs. Come on.
If the immediate effects aren’t hurting you, then the effects of eating poultry will absolutely show itself long-term. Get this: According to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, adults who consume just chicken—no red meat or pork—have a 300% increase of developing colon cancer. Actually, grilled chicken contains more cancer-causing compounds, HCAs, than beef. Oh, and remember how that commercial advertised “lower cholesterol” than other animal products? Think again. Dr. Fuhrman compared 100 grams of top sirloin and 100 grams of chicken breast and found that beef has 90 milligrams of cholesterol, and chicken has 85 even without the skin.
The “organic” or “humanely raised” sticker is also nothing but a lie. Actually, 99.9% of all commercial poultry (which is over 9 billion chickens and turkeys a year in the US) spend their lives in horribly cramped spaces only to be hung upside-down, have their throats cut open, and then get boiled alive. Nothing about an animal destined for slaughter, chicken or otherwise, is humane, and believe it or not, poultry is excluded from the FDA’s humane Methods of Slaughter Act. More chickens and turkeys are killed a year than any other animal combined. Don’t be fooled.
So, really, is chicken a better option than plant-based protein? Is this a source of protein you really want to feed your children or loved ones? Consider the facts, think it through, and throw out those plastic-wrapped packages in the freezer!
Written by Caroline McNally, Ramapo College Intern for Karen Ranzi, M.A.