Cows fed chicken feces, recycled cow remains [UPDATED]
October 29, 2009
CONSUMERS UNION, FOOD ANIMAL CONCERNS TRUST, AND MORE THAN 37,000 INDIVIDUALS ASK FDA TO STOP CHICKEN WASTE AS FEED FOR CATTLE; FDA HAS UNTIL FEB. 17* TO RESPOND
Yonkers, NY, —What should cows eat? Not bacteria-laced chicken feces, nor the recycled remains of other cows, according to Consumers Union and tens of thousands of individual consumers.
Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, and Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT), a Chicago-based animal welfare organization, today filed pre-Halloween grassroots petitions signed by more than 37,000 individual consumers with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The petitions register opposition to the use of poultry waste as cattle feed out of concerns for human and animal health.
“It seems ghoulish, but it is a perfectly legal and common practice for chicken litter—the material that accumulates on the floor of chicken growing facilities—to be fed to cattle,” said Michael Hansen, PhD, a senior scientist with Consumers Union.
Poultry litter consists primarily of manure, feathers, spilled feed and bedding material that accumulate on the floors of the buildings that house chickens and turkeys. It can contain disease-causing bacteria, antibiotics, toxic heavy metals, restricted feed ingredients including meat and bone meal from dead cattle, and even foreign objects such as dead rodents, rocks, nails and glass. Few of these hazards are eliminated by any processing that might occur before use as feed. The resulting health threats include the spread of mad cow disease and related human neurological diseases, the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria, and the potential for exposure to toxic metals, drug residues, and disease-causing bacteria.
FACT, with the endorsement of Consumers Union and 11 other national organizations, filed a formal citizen petition in August 2009 asking FDA to ban the feeding of poultry litter to cows. (http://www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#documentDetail?R=0900006480a12f75) FDA’s legal deadline for a response is February 17, 2010*. The petition is part of FACT’s Filthy Feed Campaign (www.filthyfeed.org).
“The FDA must step in and ban poultry litter as cattle feed once and for all,” remarked Richard Wood, FACT’s Executive Director. “Feeding chicken feces to cows is unfortunately not some poorly considered Halloween prank—it is an everyday practice in feedlots. Cows deserve better than toxic leftovers.”
Naomi Starkman, CU, 917.539.3924
Jacki Rossi, FACT, 773.525.4952
* – In the version of this press release originally issued on October 30, 2009 we erroneously stated that the FDA deadline for responding to the petition was November 11, 2009. The correct deadline is February 17, 2010.