Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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JuLY 14, 2006 -- Number 25, Volume 6


1. INDUSTRY WELFARE REFORMS

ConAgra Foods, Inc., a major packaged food corporation, is urging its poultry suppliers to considering slaughtering chickens using controlled-atmosphere killing (CAS), the method recommended by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Last September, shareholders rejected PETA’s proposal to see if such a switch was feasible.
Some studies show this form of killing is less inhumane and improves meat quality and yield. A spokesperson for Tysons Foods Inc., a ConAgra supplier, said he was not convinced about CAS as it is still an emerging technology. PETA is also targeting other companies that use chicken – while Applebee’s shareholders have twice rejected a similar proposal, McDonald’s agreed in 2004 to study the method. Recently, the organization asked Costco suppliers to use CAS. An op-ed by Paul Shapiro, director of the Factory Farming Campaign at the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), in the July 12th Baltimore Sun, urges poultry processors on the Delmarva Peninsula to switch to CAS: http://tinyurl.com/o49nt

Other industry reform actions, such as the HSUS’s campaign to pressure grocery chains to stop selling eggs from caged hens, are meeting with some success (detailed in the Hartford Courant article). Hens in battery cages cannot spread their wings or engage in nesting, perching, dust-bathing and other natural behaviors. Conventional producers prefer the method because they say it is produces cheaper eggs for consumers and keeps the birds more free of diseases. Recent U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports show the average price of a conventional Grade A extra-large dozen was 89 cents, and a dozen extra-large cage-free brown eggs averaged $2.50. Americans on average spend only 9.9 % of their disposable income on food, according to the USDA’s Economic Research Service, a figure that has steadily declined over time. To view expenditures since 1929, see: http://tinyurl.com/kvg8u. The June 12 issue of Time magazine features a series of articles on food. In one, entitled “Six Rules for Eating Wisely,” author Michael Pollan writes: “Spend more, eat less. Americans are as addicted to cheap food as we are to cheap oil. We spend only 9.7% of our income on food, a smaller share than any other nation. Is it a coincidence we spend a larger percentage than any other on health care (16%)? All this ‘cheap food’ is making us fat and sick. It's also bad for the health of the environment. The higher the quality of the food you eat, the more nutritious it is and the less of it you'll need to feel satisfied.”


CONAGRA CALLS FOR NEW WAY TO KILL FOWL
The Associated Press, July 10, 2006
http://msnbc.msn.com/id/13807236/

THE INSIDER: THE AWARD FOR GOOFY PRESS KIT GOES TO…
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Bill Virgin & Craig Harris, July 10, 2006
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/276964_theinsider10.html

FREEING THE FLOCK
The Hartford Courant, July 8 2006
http://tinyurl.com/oh493

2. SALMONELLA & CAMPYLOBACTER

Salmonella bacteria is the leading cause of foodborne illness in the US, according to figures from the USDA. About one million cases of salmonellosis are reported annually, with about 63% of those attributed to meat and poultry consumption. Of these cases, about 9,000 people are hospitalized and about 250 die from it. The annual cost of illnesses and premature death from Salmonella is estimated to be around $1.5 billion.

Food & Water Watch recently released the names of poultry processors with plants that failed federal standards for Salmonella. They include the largest operations in the U.S.: Tyson Foods, Pilgrim's Pride, Goldkist, Perdue Farms, Wayne Farms and Foster Farms. Of the seven largest U.S. poultry processors, only one had a contamination rate below the 24% testing standard set by the USDA. The consumer advocacy group says its analysis of USDA Salmonella tests between 1998 and 2005 show direct evidence of the danger posed by a reduction in testing. Last week, the USDA announced it would focus its efforts on plants that continually have positive Salmonella tests. Food & Water Watch stated: “Had this new policy been in effect from 1998 through 2005, up to 22 of the 106 plants would not have been tested and found to be in violation.” The group is asking the agency to ask federal legislators to make microbial testing performance standards enforceable. Needed legislation would also require the USDA to publish the results of Salmonella testing for every plant online. It also asked the USDA to abandon a proposal to reduce the testing frequency at plants that had already passed two testing periods.

Recent research from the New Zealand Food Safety Authority found up to 90% of chicken meat sold fresh at retail is infected with Campylobacter. Scientists are recommending that supermarkets be banned from selling it, in an effort to alleviate the country’s worsening Campylobacter epidemic. Infection rates for the pathogen in New Zealand have tripled in the past 15 years to be the highest in the world – three times higher than Australia and 30 times higher than the United States – and researchers say fresh chicken meat is the major cause. Otago University scientists estimate that chicken meat causes about 50,000 human Campylobacter infections and 400 hospitalizations a year, costing the country at least $40 million.


TOP POULTRY PROCESSORS FAULTED FOR HIGH SALMONELLA RATES
Food Production Daily, Ahmed ElAmin, July 6, 2006
http://tinyurl.com/ortnz

SCIENTISTS URGE BAN ON SALES OF FRESH CHICKEN
Sunday Star-Times, Emily Watt, July 9, 2006
http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/sundaystartimes/0,2106,3725927a6005,00.html


3. DUCKS OUT OF WATER

"Ducks spend 80 per cent of their time on water," explains zoologist Juliet Gellatley, “They play, swim and feed in water." Ducks need water to keep themselves clean, and they can go blind if they are unable to rinse their eyes with it. Despite this, most of the 18 million ducks raised for meat in the U.K. have no access to water for bathing and 90% of them are intensively confined, according to a report by the animal protection organization Viva!, which Gellatley founded. With 10,000 birds to a shed, the stock density is about eight birds per square meter. Producers say that such access to water would spread disease. Although the U.K.’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Council of Europe recommend that ducks have enough water to cover their heads and splash their backs, Viva! says this rarely occurs and cannot be enforced. The duck industry is said to be aware of the criticism and close to finalizing a code of practice. The article includes “feathered facts” and considers alternative production practices and possibilities.


WHY FARMED DUCKS ENDURE WORSE CONDITIONS THAN BATTERY HENS
The Independent, Sanjida O'Connell, July 6, 2006
http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/article1162749.ece

4. LATEST CASE OF CANADIAN BSE HAS U.S. WORRIED

On Thursday, Canada confirmed its seventh case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or “mad cow disease”). The 50-month old animal is the country’s youngest known victim of the disease, and was born after a limited ban on the inclusion of high-risk material in feed had been instituted. The animal’s age indicates there is a higher level of infectivity than assumed by both Canadian and U.S. authorities, given the disease incubation period. In December 2004, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recognized Canada as a "minimal-risk region." Under this classification, the U.S. will not again close its borders to Canadian beef unless there are two or more cases of BSE per one million cattle older than 24 months in each of four consecutive years. In other words, Canada can have up to 11 cases of BSE and still be considered a safe country for cattle exports. Canada is stepping up its safeguards. Last month the government announced that, next year, cattle tissues that could transmit BSE will no longer be allowed in pet foods, chicken feed and fertilizer. The U.S. feed ban is not as restrictive as Canada's, and the new case may cause foreign markets to question the effectiveness of North America's preventive strategies. The USDA said it is sending experts to Canada to investigate the finding. The seven Canadian cases do not include an imported British animal and another one born in Canada but discovered in Washington state.


CANADA'S SEVENTH CASE OF BSE CONFIRMED
CBC News, July 13, 2006
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/edmonton/story/2006/07/13/bse-confirmed.html

CANADA CONFIRMS BSE CASE IN 50-MONTH OLD ANIMAL; U.S. WORRIED
Meating Place, Pete Hisey, July 14, 2006
http://www.meatingplace.com/MembersOnly/webNews/details.aspx?item=16225

5. WELFARE QUALITY CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS

The 146-page Welfare Quality Conference Proceedings are now available online. A valuable resource on European farming, it covers European consumers’ views about farmed animal welfare, farmers’ engagement in animal welfare, results and recommendations from the Welfare Quality Project, as well as legislation and trade-related issues.

The website for the National Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, mentioned in last week’s issue of the digest, is: http://www.ncifap.org

SCIENCE AND SOCIETY IMPROVING ANIMAL WELFARE: Welfare Quality Conference Proceedings
November 2005, Brussels, Belgium
http://ec.europa.eu/food/animal/welfare/sum_proceed_wq_conf_en.pdf

 






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Compiled and edited by Cat Carroll and Mary Finelli, Farmed Animal Watch is a free weekly electronic news digest of information concerning farmed animal issues gleaned from an array of academic, industry, advocacy and mainstream media sources.