Following the outbreak of swine flu, Russia has now placed a ban not only on pork, but on beef and poultry from certain US states.

The ban applies to meat and poultry produced in California, Kansas, New York, Ohio and Texas, where cases of influenza have been reported.

US officials insist that US trading partners have no legitimate health reason for banning imports of US meat.

“We’re trying to underscore the fact that actions taken to ban the importation of pork or beef from the US is not scientifically based, and could result in some serious trade disruptions,” said US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The US Meat Export Federation says it’s very concerned that Russia is now refusing to accept any non-heat-treated meat, including beef and poultry. The federation says there’s been a “demonstrated over-reaction”, according to ABC Rural.

Here’s something to think about the next time you decide to include “organic” chicken in your meal. The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) proposed a rule in the July 14 Federal Register to amend the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National List of Allowed & Prohibited Substances (National List) to extend the use of synthetic methionine in organic poultry production until Oct. 1, 2010. The National Organic Standards Board made the recommendation on May 22, 2008.

DL-methionine, DL-methionine-hydroxyl analog and DL-methionine-hydroxyl analog calcium were originally included on the National List in 2003, and was scheduled for expiration on Oct. 1, 2008. AMS said methionine was petitioned by organic livestock producers as a part of the NOSB’s 1995 initial review of synthetic amino acids considered for use in organic livestock production.

The petitioners asserted that methionine was a necessary dietary supplement for organic poultry, due to an inadequate supply of organic feeds containing sufficient concentrations of naturally occurring methionine (ie stuff chickens normally like to eat – organic whole wheat, organic whole oats, alfalfa meal, sunflower meal, fish meal and limestone). Petitioners suggested synthetic methionine would be fed as a dietary supplement to organic poultry at levels ranging from 0.3 to 0.5% of the animal’s total diet. The petitioners also asserted that a prohibition on the use of synthetic methionine would contribute to nutritional deficiencies in organic poultry thereby jeopardizing the animal’s health.

Read more at: There’s a synthetic in my organic chicken

Poultry giant Tyson Foods has 10 days to dismantle a national multimillion dollar ad campaign centered on the claim that its chickens are raised without antibiotics, a federal appeals court in Richmond ruled last week.

Tyson will have to remove posters and brochures from 8,500 grocery stores nationwide.

“We’re disappointed the motion for a stay has been denied and are evaluating our legal options,” said Gary Mickelson, a spokesman for Tyson Foods. “We continue to believe we have acted responsibly in the way we have labeled and marketed our products and intend to stand our ground.”

The ruling is a setback for Tyson in its ongoing battle with two of its competitors Sanderson Farms, based in Laurel, Miss., and Perdue Farms, based in Salisbury, Md. The two companies jointly sought an injunction to stop Tyson’s ad campaign, arguing the “raised without antibiotics” claim misleads consumers by making it appear Tyson’s chicken is safer or more healthful. Read the rest of this entry »

With a growing number of consumers switching from red meat to poultry, the chicken and turkey industries are booming. In addition to the expanding U.S market, poultry companies are also benefiting from expanding markets around the world.

Record numbers of chickens and turkeys are being raised and killed for meat in the U.S. every year. Nearly ten billion chickens and half a billion turkeys are hatched in the U.S. annually.

These birds are typically crowded by the thousands into huge, factory-like warehouses where they can barely move. Each chicken is given less than half a square foot of space, while turkeys are each given less than three square feet. Shortly after hatching, both chickens and turkeys have the ends of their beaks cut off, and turkeys also have the ends of their toes clipped off. These mutilations are performed without anesthesia, ostensibly to reduce injuries that result when stressed birds are driven to fighting. Read the rest of this entry »

A startling 83% of the chickens tested in a 2007 Consumer Reports investigation were contaminated with one or both of the leading bacterial causes of food-borne disease — salmonella and campylobacter.

That is up from 49% in 2003, when the group last reported on contamination in chickens.

In their report, “Dirty Birds,” investigators with Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports, concluded that  that fewer than one of five birds tested (17%) were free of both pathogens, the lowest percentage of clean birds recorded since the group began testing chickens eight years ago. Read the rest of this entry »