Friday, October 8, 2010

Chicken and Egg problems

A picture that has been making the rounds depicts "Mechanically Separated Chicken." The "recipes" vary. This is not the entire chicken, bones and all. This is everything off the bones, including the less-appetizing portions. USDA ruled that we can't do this to beef anymore because of risks of Mad Cow disease. After you add some flavorings and artificial colors, it tastes like chicken again and finds its way into hot dogs, chicken nuggets, and anywhere else Indistinguishable Meat Products are sold. Update: Some fact-checking via Snopes.

Two other pieces remind us that the easy labels don't tell us everything: Organic eggs do not mean happy chickens or clean, safe food; and large egg factories do not mean unsafe food. In fact, some 80% of organic eggs are grown factory style with chicken in cages and sometimes very unsanitary conditions. But no artificial ingredients are used and there are "openings" to let nature into the henhouse, so they get around the regulations. may lament this, and that's why the second link is also needed. Powell at Barfblog highlights a NY Times article on an Indiana egg rancher who produces over 800k eggs every day and has never once tested positive for salmonella.
Big ag doesn’t mean bad ag. Organic or conventional, local or global, big or small, there are good farmers and bad farmers. The good ones know all about food safety and continuously work to minimize levels of risk.
Interestingly enough, one of the difficulties of more strictly organic production with free-range chickens is that it's a lot harder to keep them away from flies or rats that might contaminate them with salmonella.

Update: A video showing how this pink stuff is made and turned into chicken nuggets below the fold.

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