Science

The Dangers of Eating Conventional Chicken

6 months ago
The Dangers of Eating Conventional Chicken

Chicken meat is the best protein source, tastes better, readily available, and is cost-effective, making it a more preferred choice.  It is estimated that 8 billion birds are sold for meat every year in the United States. 

Are you a chicken lover? What kind of chicken do you eat? Conventional chicken?  So, what is the major concern with conventional chicken? A lot. The quality of conventional chicken meat is not up to the standard and has many health risks associated. 

Let us understand more about the science behind problems caused by conventional chicken, its effects on your health, and alternate meat sources for your protein. 

What is Conventional Chicken? 

Conventional chickens are also known as commercial boiler birds;  they are raised in cages with no sufficient sunlight and are fed with fortified grains. They have to live in confined conditions and are even administered many antibiotics, and are exposed to pesticides.  The growth period is about 8 weeks for birds to gain a weight of around 3.5kg. 

According to statistics, the most consumed meat in the United States is conventional broiler chicken, and it is estimated that around 95.4 pounds per capita are used in 2020. The chicken farms industry is expanding rapidly with increasing demand in the United States. Chicken meat is the most consumed meat around the globe. 

Chicken is an excellent source of protein. Is conventional chicken the best choice? NO. As conventionally grown chickens are fed with corn, antibiotics, and growth hormone, they can not be considered healthy. These birds are fed with GM (Genetically Modified ) crops such as corn with glyphosate, an herbicide. One study suggests that glyphosate is found in chicken meat organs, and it affects the microbiota of the human digestive system. Another research indicates the prevalence of endosulfan II in chicken meat, although this pesticide is banned. It said the endosulfan could cause tremors and seizures.

Polyunsaturated fat and trans fat from vegetable oil is a major concern for our health; they contribute to various chronic diseases. When chicken is fed with corn, its meat has a high content of omega-6 linoleic acid. You will be consuming more omega 6, and it reduces the omega 3 in your body.  Omega 3 has a vital role, and it helps in eye health, reduces anxiety, depression and improves your immune system. 

Conventional Chicken Dangers and Health Issues

Conventional chicken consumption carries the following potential health dangers:

1. Conventional Chicken Contains Antibiotic Residue

Conventional chicken is also known as broiler breed. Poor hygiene, and lack of nutritional food, have led to a bacterial infection in poultry farms. The conventional chickens are generally fed with antibiotics to treat the bacterial infections in the bird. This has led to a significant concern as it is leading to bacterial resistance in poultry. 

Experts suggest that antibiotic residue is a primary concern for human health because of its harmful effects on consumers. In a study, 80 chickens were screened for antibiotic residue from the conventional farms, and results showed 30 different antibiotic residues in the chicken meat. Sulfonamides, quinolones, tetracyclines, and beta-lactams were commonly quantified antibiotics in conventional chicken meat. According to this study, 77.5% of antibiotic residue was found in conventional chicken muscle samples. The levels of Ciprofloxacin(32%), amoxicillin(22.5%), and tetracyclines(17.5%) found in the meat, was higher than the Maximum residue Limit (MRL), a recommended limit according to the European Unit EC.

2. Conventional Chicken Has Super Resistant Bacteria

The excessive usage of antibiotics in poultry farms will pose health issues such as antibiotic-resistant bacteria leading to several severe infections in humans. 

One study finds that kosher chicken has the maximum amount of antibiotic-resistant E-coli, followed by conventional chicken and organic. Raised without antibiotics type of chicken has negligible antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It also suggests that production methods are influencing the quality of the chicken.  Kosher and conventional chicken leads you to get exposed to potential pathogens. You can choose free-range chicken or the one raised without antibiotics. 

A study conducted in poultry farms of Canada suggests that multidrug-resistant bacteria such as; Escherichia, Enterococcus, nontyphoid salmonella were found in poultry chicken meat. It is crucial to stop the usage of antibiotics with the feed. It is recommended to implement some alternatives such as antimicrobial growth promoters in poultry farms. 

Antibiotic resistance is a worldwide threat, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports around 2 million people are antibiotic-resistant to several antibiotics, and about 23000 people die each year. It is essential to raise birds without antibiotics or organic chicken to avoid antibiotic resistance.

3. Pesticides and Insecticides in Conventional Chicken Meat 

Demand for poultry meat and products is increasing rapidly due to the economic crisis driven by several factors. People are not able to buy lamb/beef and meat products due to high-price.  

Experts suggest that demand for chicken meat has led to the compromised quality of meat. There are chemical residues such as environmental pollutants (pesticides, insecticides, and phthalates) and natural contaminants (mycotoxins) present in poultry meat. 

A study was conducted to check the chemical residues in the chicken eggs using high-pressure liquid chromatography(HPLC). It was found that bifenthrin and difenoconazole were present in all the samples in a different concentration exceeding the maximum residue limits (MRL) of codex Alimentarius commission. The bifenthrin concentration was 1.5-5.8 mg/kg in conventional chicken eggs and 0.25g- 4.1 mg/kg in organic eggs. Difenoconazole was found around 0.02-3.7mg/kg in organic. The health risk index surpassed 1 for difenoconazole in seven sample tests indicating a potential health risk with conventional chicken eggs.

A study was conducted to quantify the amount of organochlorine pesticide residue in poultry feed, chicken muscles, and eggs at a selected poultry farm. The presence of hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH) and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), endosulfan sulfate, and heptachlor epoxide are found in chicken muscles. The chemical residues in chicken muscle did not exceed the MRL limits. The organochlorine pesticide residue was higher than the MRL limits in chicken eggs.

4. Hormonal Disruption

Grass-fed beef, organic chicken meat are the best sources of protein and hormone health. Poultry consumption is increasing because of its better taste, easy accessibility, and lower price. 

According to a study, daily consumption of commercially available chicken meat has led to the substantial increase of growth hormones, serum cholesterol levels, and imbalance in serum steroidal hormone levels in the study conducted on female rats. This study also suggests that daily consumption of conventional chicken might lead to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in females due to steroid hormonal imbalance. 

A comparative study was conducted between conventional chicken and organic chicken meat to study their effects on the hormonal imbalance; there was a significant increase in the levels of serum testosterone and a significant decrease in serum Luteinizing Hormone levels. Hence regular consumption of meat might lead to potential hormonal imbalance and obesity. 

Final Words

Due to increased population and economic crisis, the poultry business is growing rapidly. Though conventional or commercial chicken tastes better and is cost-effective, it has many health risks. 

Demand for organic meat has increased worldwide owing to it being more nutritious. Organic livestock products contain higher concentrations of nutritionally desirable compounds, therefore making them a healthier option. 

Choosing free-range chicken or organic chicken would be the best option in your carnivore diet. Free-range chicken has more nutrient value, fewer residues, no antibiotics, and best for your health. 

Dr. Rashmi Byakodi is a health and wellness writer who aims to spread awareness about health through her words. With her medical background and a passion for writing, she has been creating health content on various platforms. Dr. Rashmi believes that with the right knowledge and a healthy lifestyle, we can combat many health issues, and she strives to spread the same through her blog posts. 

Find her on LinkedIn, Quora, and Pinterest.

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