By now, it should come as no surprise to you that factory farmed cattle and poultry live in some unsavory conditions, are fed some pretty disgusting things, and the resulting meat products are generally processed in a way that would make your stomach turn.
Despite the growing awareness about how conventional meat is produced and handled, we’re eating more of it than ever before. This can only mean one thing: the average consumer couldn’t care less what’s in their meat. Maybe that’s because we have trouble visualizing the harm done by GMO corn feed or chemical baths. After all, we can’t see how that affects the meat, or by extension, our bodies.
One thing we can visualize, however, is poop. Yeah, feces, that smelly emission that represents everything we fed our bodies that couldn’t be used. There’s a reason why both people and animals try to keep their living and pooping environments as separate as possible: feces is laden with bacteria that can make us sick. This makes it hard to understand why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration wants people to eat it.
No, they’re not suggesting we serve up turds on a plate, but it’s pretty close. You might be surprised to learn that many in the conventional agricultural industry feed farmed cattle something known as ”poultry litter.” This feed additive is nothing more than chicken feces, feathers and uneaten chicken feed collected from the floor of crowded chicken cages and broiler houses. Because it’s cheaper than even GMO corn and soy, cattle operations purchase around 2 billion pounds of poultry litter each year.
Sure that’s gross, but as we mentioned earlier, most people don’t care how “gross” their meat is. The truly shocking thing about the FDA’s approval of this practice is that it’s a direct violation of laws meant to protect American beef eaters from a deadly disease known as Bovine Spongiform Encepholopathy, or Mad Cow Disease.
See, both the chicken poop and uneaten pellets of chicken feed found in poultry litter are likely to contain beef protein, including ground-up meat and bone meal, something that’s perfectly legal to feed to chickens but completely illegal to feed to cows.
“The primary source of infection is feed contaminated with the infectious prion agent, such as meat-and-bone meal containing protein derived from rendered infected cattle,” explains the USDA’s own website. “Regulations from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have prohibited the inclusion of mammalian protein in feed for cattle and other ruminants since 1997 and have also prohibited high risk tissue materials in all animal feed since 2009.”
Although the “US Food and Drug Administration wisely banned the practice of feeding the remains of dead cows to living ones back in 1997…the agency has never prohibited feeding those same remains to chickens and other poultry, nor does it currently prohibit feeding poultry litter to cattle,” explains Mother Jones.
Regardless of your feelings about organic meat versus conventional meat, or omnivorous diets versus plant-based ones, this obvious loophole in the FDA’s policies should ruffle your feathers. This is about more than the twisted fact that we eat animals fed poop. It’s about the fact that an agency charged with protecting American consumers is failing to enforce its own policies, most likely because it’s a big money saver for the all powerful beef industry. In doing so, the FDA is putting millions of meat eaters in the path of a documented fatal disease — one that spells disaster for public health as well as industry.