U.S. Pork Producers Keep Using Drug Banned or Restricted in 160 Countries


Pig farmers in the United States have continued to feed a controversial drug to their livestock, choosing production needs over human and animal health concerns, according to critics.

The drug is ractopamine, which is given to 60% to 80% of all domestic pigs and cattle to make them grow leaner before slaughter. The Food and Drug Administration first approved it 15 years ago, claiming the drug was safe to use.

But food safety advocates disagree with this claim and the assertions of farmers who rely on the product made byElanco, a division of drug maker Eli Lilly. They point out that 160 countries have either outlawed the drug or limited its use, while also noting the existence of 160,000 reports of pigs becoming ill or dying after being fed ractopamine.

The nonprofit Center for Food Safety cited information from the European Food Safety Authority showing ractopamine can cause increased heart rates in humans.

This symptom is similar to the drug’s effect on pigs, which experience elevated heart rates and relaxed blood vessels. These changes result in leaner muscles in the animals, which don’t eat as much food while on the drug, saving farmers money on feed

The Humane Society Institute for Science and Policy has reported that studies show pigs fed ractopamine can have trouble walking, become more aggressive, and experience other abnormal behavior.

As concern in the U.S. grows over the safety of domestic pork—as well as that of other foods, including chicken, which is disinfected with chlorine by American food producers—an expanded trade deal between the U.S. and the European Union(EU) hangs in the balance. Given the EU’s ban of ractopamine and U.S. chickens, the new trade pact could be in trouble. The U.S. government has put pressure on Europe to allow such foods to be imported, but the EU has been firm.

“We want to have quality food,” Olga Kikou, European affairs manager for Compassion in World Farming, told McClatchy. “We don’t want to have food that is produced in ways that are not good for our health.”

“This is such a great example of how the U.S. is really putting the financial interest of companies ahead of public health,” Kari Hamerschlag, senior program manager of the food and technology program at Friends of the Earth, said to McClatchy. “We want to export our really crappy meat-production system to the rest of the world—and they don’t want it.”-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederma

Related:  Ractopamine Factsheet: Lean Meat = Mean Meat (Center for Food Safety)
Ractopamine: The Meat Additive on Your Plate That’s Banned Almost Everywhere But America
U.S. Pig Farmers Use Drug Banned in China as Unsafe

Recall: Something Even Nastier than Usual Lurks in Tyson Chicken Nuggets

Nutritional Anarchy
by Daisy Luther

Just in case chicken “nuggets” aren’t disgusting enough, now Tyson has been forced to recall more than 75,000 pounds of the melded poultry parts because of “extraneous material”.

Due to an issue with some of the processing equipments, consumers may find a little something extra in their “nuggets” – little bits of plastic. The USDA reports:

The problem was discovered after the firm received consumer complaints that small pieces of plastic were found in the products. The problem was traced to a product scraper inside a blending machine.

The company has received reports of minor oral injury associated with consumption of these products. FSIS has received no additional reports of injury or illness from consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness from consumption of these products should contact a healthcare provider. (source)

Sadly, plastic is not the worst thing you might find in chicken nuggets. They are made when the inedible parts of the chicken are washed with ammonia to kill bacteria, “mechanically separated” which means turned into a paste, and squirted out into mini-nugget blobs or patties. The parts included are the entire carcass, the tendons, the gristle…ugh. Then artificial flavors and good old MSG are used to disguise the nasty origins of the “meat” and because it’s Pepto-pink, artificial color is used to make it look like chicken.

According to an article on Mother Jones, only 40% of that tidy little breaded nugget is actually chicken meat.

The implicit marketing pitch goes something like this: “You like fried chicken, right? How about some bite-sized fried chicken chunks, without the messy bones?” When most people think of eating chicken, they think of, say, biting into a drumstick. What they get when they do so is a mouthful of muscle—popularly known as meat

What people are actually getting from chicken nuggets is a bit different, according to a new study by University of Mississippi medical researchers. (Abstract here; I have access to the full paper but can’t upload it for copyright reasons.) They bought an order of chicken nuggets from two (unnamed) fast-food chains, plucked a nugget from each, broke them down, and analyzed them in a lab.

One of them contained just 40 percent muscle. The rest? “[G]enerous quantities of fat and other tissue, including connective tissue and bone spicules.” Mmmm, chicken bones.

The other sample had a whopping 50 percent muscle. The remainder consisted “primarily of fat, with some blood vessels and nerve present,” as well as epithelium, the stuff that glands are made of.

Now why would national fast-food chains be mixing bone and fat and whatnot into the chicken meat they grind into nuggets? I doubt anyone ever woke up and thought, “I’m craving some mechanically formed orbs of chicken parts, including meat, but also with plenty of fat, connective tissue, glands, and bone.” Offal is a lot cheaper than meat—the more you can work in, the more profit you can eke out of this popular menu item. Granted, people should eat more offal, as I’ve argued before. But (a) they have a right to know when they’re eating it; (b) one reason people eat chicken meat is because they think it’s lean—cutting it with chicken fat turns such eaters into suckers; and (c) bone matter, really? Bones are great when they’re gently boiled into highly nutritious broths and stocks. That seems like a much more reasonable use for them than hiding them in chicken nuggets. (source)

So therein lies all of the chicken bits and pieces people wouldn’t normally eat, GMO corn starch, GMO dextrose, and chemical flavors and colors. Big Food is also not well-known for its humane treatment of animals. They are raised in horrific conditions, treated with antibiotics and hormones, and fed GMO corn. Considering all of this nastiness that you can find with a seal of USDA/FDA approval in the freezer section of your grocery store, it’s gotta be bad if there is something included that ups the nastiness quotient to the point a recall is necessary. After all, in the grand scheme of revolting things to eat, are little flecks of plastic really that much grosser than the other stuff contained within that crispy coating?

If you or someone you love happens to have this stuff lurking in your freezer, you can find complete information about the recall HERE.

Our anarchist recommendation? If you are going to eat chicken, try to find a local source of free range poultry. Cook it yourself. It really doesn’t take that much longer to throw a chicken breast on a pan and put it in the oven than to shake “nuggets” out of a bag onto a pan and put it in the oven. If your kids want “friendly” shapes, you can pound the chicken thin with a meat mallet and use a stainless steel cookie cutter to make dinosaurs, butterflies, and whatnot.

Gaia Health
by Heidi Stevenson

Two attenuated vaccine viruses have swapped genetic material to form a new and more virulent disease in Australian chickens—an indictment of both Agribusiness farming and vaccine technology.

The viruses from two different vaccines have recombined to form two new and even deadlier diseases than the original. The vaccine virus strains are attenuated, so that they can’t produce serious disease. Nonetheless, these two weakened strains produced more virulent disease than the one they’re meant to prevent.

According to Science, one of the authors of the paper documenting this development, veterinary microbiologist Glenn Browning, states:

This shows that recombination of such strains can happen and people need to think about it.

The disease the vaccines are intended to prevent, infectious laryngotracheitis (ILTV), is no laughing matter. It’s a herpes virus that causes respiratory illness. Chickens can choke on blood and mucus, resulting in the deaths of up to one-fifth of those affected. However, the two new viruses produce even more severe disease.

The Study

Clearly titled “Attenuated Vaccines Can Recombine to Form Virulent Field Viruses”, the study investigated the cause of the new ILTV diseases(2). They performed whole-genome sequencing of the three strains of viruses found in the vaccines and the two new disease strains. The results were consistent with interspecies recombination. They then confirmed those results by comparing the sequences of the new viruses with those of the vaccine viruses. They found the specific regions of genetic crossover, thus confirming that the new viruses are a result of a gene exchange in the attenuated vaccine viruses.

After that, they tested the new viruses for virulence by seeing how rapidly they reproduced. They found that “both recombinants had significantly increased virulence or replication compared with their parent strains.”

The authors concluded:

The rapid emergence of two virulent recombinants suggests that recombination between
attenuated herpes virus vaccines and resultant restoration of virulence may be rare but can bring about a fitness advantage, with severe consequences. The findings from this study raise concerns about the use of multiple distinct attenuated herpes virus vaccines under conditions that favor recombination. These findings have implications for the use of herpes viruses, and possibly other DNA viruses, as attenuated vaccines or vaccine vectors.

ABC reports Browning as saying:

We suspect that this sort of event could potentially happen in other animal species as well and with other viruses in addition to infectious laryngotracheitis virus. So we believe that what we’ve seen here has potentially wider implications than just this particular disease in poultry.


This is not only one way in which vaccines can create more virulent diseases. As reported in Whooping Cough Epidemic Caused by Virulent New Pertussis Strain—And It’s the Result of Vaccine, the whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine has caused a new and more virulent form of pertussis, which is responsible for most of the current outbreaks. This new form of pertussis probably already existed, but was kept in check by the variety for which the vaccination was made.

In the case of the oral polio vaccine, currently in heavy use in Africa and India, the attenuated virus has apparently evolved in human bodies, rather than in the wild as has been the case with pertussis. This seems to have happened on several occasions, but the result is new and more virulent forms of polio in circulation, as discussed in Mutated Polio From Vaccine Is Spreading in Africa.

Further, vaccines may be fueling increases in seemingly unrelated diseases. Vaccines May Be Fueling the Increasing Rate of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Cancer examines this likelihood.

The Inherent Error

Of course, as shown in the video on the right, the methods now used to raise chickens and eggs are likely the primary reason vaccines are needed to prevent ILTV. Battery farming, where birds are inhumanely crowded in tiny cages stacked on top of each other for their entire lives weaken them so they’re susceptible to even the most minor illness. If one catches something, it’s bound to spread like wildfire.

The Law of Unintended Consequences is at work demonstrating that there’s a price to be paid for trying to circumvent nature rather than work with it. By raising animals in such inhumane and unnatural ways, they’re made unhealthy. That lack of health then requires further unnatural methods. As we’re now seeing, the piper must ultimately be paid. A new and more virulent disease has been created.

At some point, these maniacs need to come to grips with a basic fact: We are part of nature. When we try to operate outside it, we will pay a price. The longer we get away with it, the greater the price becomes. Playing at god does not make us gods. Nature will ultimately restore the balance that we have the hubris to believe doesn’t include us.