Cluck cluck – keeping an eye on the poultry scientists

My attention was recently drawn to Science Alert, an educational web site that posts updates on scientific news and research in Australia and New Zealand. So far so good – I enjoy keeping up with science news from around the world, so after adding them to my RSS feed I checked to see if there was a UK equivalent.

Surprise surprise – takes me to the International Journal of Poultry Sciences. This publication, whose articles are freely accessible online, describes in exhaustive detail the methods used by the poultry industry to manufacture (for there is no other word) the product that is then sold, somewhat misleadingly, as meat.

Of course, the Science Alert I mentioned first has absolutely nothing to do with this UK-based web site of the same name. Before any feathers get ruffled, I only mention them here as the reason I stumbled across the poultry scientists in the first place.

I know it’s all been said before, so I’m not going to deliver my own version of Food, Inc. right here on my blog. But I’ll definitely be following this web site (and reviewing their articles) to see just how mind-boggling their practices can be. Read a few of them yourself, and you’ll never see a chicken from Sainsbury’s or Publix in the same light.

An example from the current issue:

Strategies to Improve the Utilization of Tannin-Rich Feed Materials by Poultry

Tannins are well known as anti-nutritive factors that hinder the utilization of feeds by monogastric animals especially poultry. Tannins depressed growth rate and feed utilization by forming complexes with proteins and carbohydrates or inhibition of digestive enzymes. Unlike ruminant animals, poultry do not have microbes in their gastrointestinal tract to detoxify or reduce the effect of tannins, but several methods have been used to reduce the tannin content of poultry feeds for better utilization. These methods are mainly physical and chemical in nature. The physical methods are cooking, dehulling, autoclaving, toasting / roasting and soaking, while the chemical methods include, use of wood ash, addition of tallow, use of tannin binding agents, use of enzymes, germination and urea treatment. The choice of method(s) will depend on their effectiveness in reducing tannin and the cost involved.

Sounds delicious. Wood ash? Urea treatment? If I were a battery chicken I’d be licking my chops at the thought of my next meal.

In the meantime Alex and I are now making a point of purchasing only locally sourced organic free-range meat, which actually tastes as one imagines a chicken, lamb or cow should taste. Poultry scientists, eat your hearts out – we’d already abandoned you well before I stumbled across your Frankenstein journal – but it would definitely have tipped the balance for us, and I hope it will for others!

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