Conventional Chicken 101


When deciding between regular and organic poultry, the difference lies in how the chickens are raised. Chances are that the chickens on the shelf at your local grocery store were subject to poor living standards. Conventionally raised chickens are susceptible to bleaching, water incubation, artificial growing methods, diseases, bacterial contamination, and high antibiotic dosages.

Conventional chickens are processed under inspected, but still questionably unsanitary conditions. While these practices are all too common in America, the 27 member states of the European Union consider these practices unsafe and forbid them.

Conventional Practices

Many conventional chickens were pumped with antibiotics to promote growth, and washed in chlorine for bleaching and contamination. Along with routine antibiotics and chlorine baths, conventionally raised chickens are fed arsenic.

Dr. David Wallings of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy recommends avoiding chicken raised with arsenic. Arsenic is added to the chickens’ diet because it reduces infections and makes the meat a pleasant shade of pink. You probably think nothing of making chicken for dinner; however, the arsenic remains inside the chicken’s tissues, increasing your chances of arsenic exposure.

Another study by the Johns Hopkins University Center for a Livable Future found not only arsenic within chicken meat, but also illegal antibiotics, the antihistamine used in Benadryl, and acetaminophen, the ingredient used in Tylenol and other pain medications.

Take a look at this post on factory farmed animals.

Why You Should Choose Organic

Organic chicken producers offer healthier, cleaner meat. They do not use antibiotics and other “animal drugs,” and cannot provide feed with animal slaughter byproducts. Their methods also lead to less contamination – one study, which tested 300-400 samples of chicken, found that organic broiler farms had a 4.3% prevalence rate of salmonella, while conventional farms had seven times that rate at 28.8%.

While conventional chickens are fed a grain-based diet, organic chickens are pasture-fed. The USDA found that the free-range diet, which includes grass, seeds, and insects, results in chicken with lower fat levels, more vitamin A, and increased omega-3 fatty acids.

Look for organic chicken available through local farmers and producers who can assure the chickens were not exposed to arsenic, antibiotics, and other harsh practices. Making the right choices for meat and poultry can ensure a safer, healthier diet.