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14 January 2016
Chicken For Dinner: It’s Enough to Make You Sick Also published on OpEdNews

Revised & Updated, 2016

First published in 1998, “Chicken For Dinner: It’s Enough to Make You Sick” is newly available from United Poultry Concerns with updated content and references. Does it surprise you to know that the information presented in 1998 from the 1980s and 1990s followed by countless articles, scientific reports, blog posts, and whatnot since then, has hardly changed a bit?

The decision to update “Chicken For Dinner” coincides with the publication, on January 7, 2016, of the Eighth Edition of Dietary Guidelines For Americans 2015-2020, a document published every 5 years by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The latest edition of the Dietary Guidelines is a hodgepodge of claims and “recommendations” that seems purposely designed to confuse people while ensuring that the production and consumption of animals, eggs, and dairy will not be disrupted in the quest for health.

Chicken may make you sick



Chicken For Dinner
It’s Enough to Make You Sick

By Karen Davis, Ph.D., President of United Poultry Concerns


Fat and Cholesterol in Meat

“Dietary cholesterol is found only in animal foods such as egg yolk, dairy products, shellfish, meats, and poultry.” [1]


“Cholesterol in eggs, poultry, cheese, and meat contributes to heart attacks and other health risks.”
– Neal D. Barnard, M.D., President of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. [2]


“Decades of science have conclusively linked dietary cholesterol to cardiovascular disease, which kills nearly 2,200 Americans daily.
Plant-based, cholesterol-free diets are proven to fight heart disease.” [3]


“The color of meat is irrelevant.”
– Biochemist Shi Huang, Burnham Institute for Medical Research. [4]


Many people have switched from red meat to chicken, believing chicken to be a healthier choice. However, chicken is not a healthy food choice. For one thing, chicken is not low in fat. Skinless chicken breast meat derives 23% of calories from fat and skinless turkey breast meat derives 18% of calories from fat. By comparison, lentils derive 3% of calories from fat, potatoes 1% and spaghetti noodles 4%. Like all meat, chicken is permeated with artery-clogging saturated fat – you can't cut it away.

The cholesterol content of chicken or turkey is comparable to that of beef or pork, about 25 milligrams per ounce. [5] These levels are similar because "the cell membranes in all muscles, regardless of species, have cholesterol inside the membrane." [6]

Cholesterol occurs mainly in the lean portions of meat. The saturated fats that permeate these portions raise cholesterol levels by stimulating the liver to make more cholesterol. Thus, even "lean" meats including poultry have significant amounts of saturated fat in addition to cholesterol. [7] By contrast, plants have no cholesterol.

Enraged chicken drawing

Image by Nigel Burroughs,
Nature's Chicken


Fat and Cholesterol in Eggs

According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), 60% of eggs’ calories are from fat, and eggs are the leading source of cholesterol in America. Eggs can increase the risk of diabetes 68%, heart disease 19%, prostate cancer 81% and colon cancer by nearly five times. Contrary to egg industry claims that eggs are health foods, PCRM cites studies in the journal Atherosclerosis and the Canadian Journal of Cardiology showing that eggs contribute significantly to heart disease. [8]


Food Poisoning

Food poisoning kills 3,000 Americans each year and makes 48 million sick. [9] The number of food poisoned people is actually much higher, since many don’t report their illnesses. Of all sources of foodborne illness, “Poultry is the most common cause of food poisoning in the home,” states Michael Greger, M.D. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show more deaths attributable to poultry consumption than to any other food product. [10]

Consumer Reports publishes its test findings on raw chicken every few years. In 1998, CR found harmful bacteria, chiefly Salmonella and Campylobacter, on 71% of store-bought chicken, including “free-range” and “premium” brands. They warned that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s seal of approval “is no guarantee of cleanliness.” [11]

In 2007, Consumer Reports announced tests on 525 chickens purchased from U.S. supermarkets and specialty stores in 23 states. 84% were contaminated with Campylobacter and Salmonella bacteria. Moreover, 84% of the Salmonella and 67% of the Campylobacter bacteria showed resistance to antibiotics including “multiple classes of drugs.” [12]

In Dangerous contaminated chicken published in 2014, Consumer Reports confirmed that 97% of 300 chicken breasts purchased by their investigators in stores across the country – including organic brands – contained dangerous bacteria. More than half were contaminated with feces and nearly half tested positive for antibiotic-resistant bacteria. [13]

For decades the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has confirmed that the main sources of foodborne diseases in people are “meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products, and eggs,” and that 90% of these illnesses are caused by bacteria, specifically: Clostridium perfringens, Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli, Listeria, Staphylococcus, Shigella, and Yersinia. According to the USDA: “Chicken and turkey gravies are specifically identified, along with meat, meat stews, meat pies, and beef, as a major source of Clostridium perfringens.” [14]

Clostridium perfringens – the bacterial pathogen that rots and liquefies chickens’ intestines and skin to pus and jelly – is described by FoodSafety.gov as “one of the most common causes of food poisoning in the United States.” Considered to cause “nearly a million illnesses each year” in the U.S., it sickens consumers of beef, poultry, and gravies – gravies that are made with animal fat “drippings.” [15]


Salmonella and Campylobacter

“campylobacter or salmonella, the leading bacterial causes
of foodborne disease.” – Consumer Reports

Salmonellosis is a bacterial infection of the intestinal tract causing nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever, chills, weakness, and exhaustion. If the bacteria penetrate the intestinal tissue and enter the blood, Salmonella can colonize other tissues, causing septicemia (blood poisoning), meningitis, osteomyelitis, and even death. Like Campylobacter, Shigella, or Yersinia, Salmonella can cause chronic joint diseases, such as arthritis. According to the Agricultural Research Service, "an infection in the gastrointestinal tract by Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, or Yersinia bacteria can lead to inflammation of an organ or joint that is far removed from the site of infection." [17]

In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 181 people in 40 states infected with Salmonella from contact with live poultry, including birds purchased in feed stores. [18] CDC data showed that the 2013 Foster Farms outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg, which infected 389 people, put twice as many consumers of chicken in the hospital as usual. [19] According to the CDC, every single confirmed case of Salmonella Enteritidis in the country represents “38 cases in the general population.” [20]

Campylobacteriosis is a bacterial infection of the intestines that results from eating and handling chicken products. Symptoms include cramps, chills, excruciating pain, diarrhea and fever. The digestive tract takes about two weeks to recover. Antibiotic treatment for campylobacteriosis is largely ineffective, due to the increased resistance of Campylobacter organisms to antibiotics. According to the Food Standards Agency in the UK, where 70% of chickens tested positive for Campylobacter in 2014, “Campylobacter is the most common form of food poisoning in the UK, sickening roughly 280,000 people a year. In the U.S., Campylobacter is estimated to cause 1.3 million illnesses each year.” [21]

In addition to being a leading cause of bacterial food poisoning in the United States, including 200 to 800 deaths each year, Campylobacter is linked to a paralytic disease that can cause fatal nerve damage known as Guillain-Barre syndrome. According to The New York Times, "there are about 5,000 cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome a year, and researchers say that 20% to 40% of them follow a campylobacter infection." [22]

Scientists say Campylobacter is “currently the most significant pathogen that can be transmitted from animals to humans through meat . . . causing a massive number of infections and inflammations.” Campylobacter is specifically linked to the consumption and handling of poultry products. [23]


Carcinogenic Solution: “Thorough Cooking”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture always recommends “thorough cooking” of contaminated poultry instead of telling people to avoid it. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) explains the risk of “thorough cooking.” If raw or undercooked poultry products are crawling with bacteria that can make people sick, thorough cooking of these products can, the same as with red meat, result in the formation of cancer-causing compounds known as heterocyclic amines. [24]

According to PCRM, “It has long been known that cooked red meat contains cancer-causing heterocyclic amines, which form as the meat is heated.” A study by the National Cancer Institute (part of the National Institutes of Health under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) showed that “oven-broiled, pan-fried, or grilled/barbecued chicken carries an even bigger load of these carcinogens than does red meat.” [25]


Diseases Traced to Animal Remains in Chicken Feed

Poultry feed contains dead birds and other animal remains – bones, feathers, blood, offal, manure, restaurant grease, fishmeal, slaughterhouse condemnations and all sorts of diseased, putrid and rancid refuse as part of the “recycling” process. [26] Poultry feed – “animal protein" – is a primary source of Salmonella contamination, and poultry waste products are linked to cardiopulmonary diseases in chickens. [27] Not only are sick birds shipped directly to consumers, but animals who die of undiagnosed diseases before slaughter are fed to the chickens and turkeys people eat, along with other animals who died of unknown causes. [28] Perdue Farms, Tyson Foods and other poultry producers conceal the content of poultry feeds, including the antibiotic content, as government protected "proprietary information."


Massive Amounts of Antibiotics Fed to Chickens

“U.S. regulators don’t monitor how the drugs are administered on the farm – in what doses, for what purpose, or for how long.”
– Reuters [29]

An investigation by Reuters, published on November 15, 2014, revealed: “Major U.S. poultry farms are administering antibiotics to their flocks far more pervasively than regulators realize, posing a potential risk to human health. Internal records examined by Reuters reveal that some of the nation’s largest poultry producers [Perdue, Tyson, Pilgrim’s Pride, George’s, Koch Foods, Foster Poultry Farms] – routinely feed chickens an array of antibiotics – not just when sickness strikes, but as a standard practice over most of the birds’ lives. In every instance of antibiotic use identified by Reuters, the doses were at the low levels that scientists say are especially conducive to the growth of so-called superbugs, bacteria that gain resistance to conventional medicines used to treat people.”


The Cost of “Cheap” Chicken

If chicken were produced less unwholesomely and hazardously it would not be a cheap product. As Broiler Industry magazine said years ago, "The cost to the consumer would be enormous." Moreover, “the cost of eliminating salmonella from flocks and raw finished product may force the price of poultry to increase to the point that poultry must be imported from less expensive sources.” [30] This is already happening. Poultry products are imported to the United States under provisions set forth by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. [31]


Commercial Chickens are Raised in Excrement

The chickens one buys at the supermarket lived and breathed, not just in tons of excrement, but in tons of abnormal excrement. Because of their horrible diet, their wastes contain more pollutants than do the wastes of animals on healthy diets. In addition to the solid excrement on the floor, the birds breathe toxic excretory ammonia throughout their lives. These poisonous gases permeate the air, rising from the decomposing uric acid in the accumulated droppings in the chicken houses. They penetrate egg shells. They enter the birds' airways and immune system, inviting Salmonella and other pathogens to colonize and spread. [32] The droppings themselves contain disease organisms, drug residues, cysts, larvae, and metals such as copper, and zinc. [33] Until 2016, arsenic could be legally added to what was fed to chickens and turkeys in the U.S., and there is no telling whether arsenic-compounds are still being used since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced, effective December 31, 2015, that it would no longer approve new applications for arsenic-based drugs for farmed animals. [34]




1. The Physicians Committee Praises New Dietary Guidelines for Strengthening Cholesterol Warnings, But Demands Investigation into Cholesterol Money Trail , PCRM, January 7, 2016.

2. PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.) http://www.pcrm.org/USDA.

3. Physicians Committee, Cholesterol Matters. www.pcrm.org.

4. Shi Huang, quoted in Merritt Clifton, Oxford study confirms WHO warning of cancer risk from red meat. Animals 24-7, November 5, 2015. For Huang’s comments, scroll down to subheading, “The data shows link between total meat & mortality.”

5. Physicians Committee, Nutrition Education Curriculum Section One: Preventing & Reversing Heart Disease. See especially ‘The “White Meat” Myth’ subtopic for comparisons of fat and cholesterol in a variety of animal and plant foods.

6. Ostrich Meat Industry Development. Texas A&M University, 1994.

7. Neal D. Barnard, M.D., The Power of Your Plate. Summertown TN: Book Publishing Co, 1990:20.

8. Physicians Committee, The Truth About Eggs. www.pcrm.org.

9. Travis Waldron, As GOP Guts Food Safety Budgets, New Data Show Illnesses, July 30, 2012.

10. Michael Greger, M.D., Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching. Lantern Books, 2006. See also Dangerous contaminated chicken. Consumer Reports, January 2014.

11. Chicken Tests, Consumer Reports, March 1998:12.

12. Bacteria Exposed. Consumer Reports’ Dirty Chickens, January 2007.

13. Dangerous contaminated chicken. Consumer Reports, January 2014.

14. Jean C. Buzby and Tanya Roberts, ERS Estimates U.S. Foodborne Disease Costs. FoodReview, USDA, Economic Research Service, Vol. 18, Issue 2, May-August 1995:27-42.

15. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Clostridium perfringens, Foodsafety.gov, January 14, 2016.

16. Bacteria Exposed. Consumer Reports’ Dirty Chickens, January 2007.

17. D. Stanley, Arthritis From Foodborne Bacteria? Agricultural Research, USDA, October 1996:16.

18. News Desk, CDC: 181 People in 40 States Infected With Salmonella From Contact With Live Poultry. Food Safety News, July 3, 2015.

19. Dangerous contaminated chicken. Consumer Reports, January 2014.

20. FDA-USDA, Egg Safety Public Meeting Transcript of Proceedings. Columbus, Ohio, March 30, 2000. Cited in Karen Davis, Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs: An Inside Look at the Modern Poultry Industry, Summertown, TN: Book Publishing Company, 2009:57.

21. News Desk, Study: 70 Percent of Chickens in UK Stores Test Positive for Campylobacter. Food Safety News, November 27, 2014.

22. Marian Burros, Health Concerns Mounting Over Bacteria in Chicken. The New York Times, October 20, 1997.

23. Dick van Doorn, Diagnosing dysbiosis in broilers, World Poultry, November 25, 2015.

24. David Liu, Grilled chicken contains cancer-causing agent. foodconsumer.org, October 1, 2006.

25. Neal D. Barnard, M.D., Foods Against Cancer: An Update. Good Medicine (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine), Spring 1996:16.

26. National Research Council, Nutrient Requirements of Poultry, 9th ed. Washington DC: National Academy Press, 1994. Feedstuffs, Jan 14, 1991:27; Nov 25, 1996:5.

27. Richard J. Julian, et al., Effect of poultry by-product meal on pulmonary hypertension, right ventricular failure and ascites in broiler chickens, Canadian Veterinary Journal 33 (June 1992):385.

28. Scott Bronstein, Chicken, How Safe? The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 26, 1991:C1.

29. Brian Grow, et al., Farmaceuticals: A Reuters Investigation. Major Poultry Farms Routinely Feed Antibiotics To Chickens, September 15, 2014.

30. S.M. Russell, The FSIS Pathogen Reduction Proposal. Broiler Industry, February 1996:24.

31. USDA, Importing Meat, Poultry & Egg Products to the United States, last modified August 12, 2013.

32. Karen Davis, Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs: An Inside Look at the Modern Poultry Industry. Summertown, TN: Book Publishing Company, 2009:59, 112-114.

33. Jim Mason and Peter Singer, Animal Factories. New York: Crown Publishers, 1990:122.

34. Food and Drug Administration, FDA Announces Pending Withdrawal of Approval of Nitarsone, April 1, 2015.



For more information about Health & Nutrition, see www.upc-online.org/health.


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