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Meaty matters on the radio

(article, Culinate staff)

The food activist Tom Philpott was recently interviewed on NPR, talking about the current state of the American meat industry. 

As NPR phrased it, Philpott covered "topics like pink slime, proposed legislation affecting antibiotics in the livestock food chain, labor issues within the meat industry, and the practice of feeding 'chicken litter' to cows, which raises concerns about passing along bovine spongiform encephalopathy into the food chain." 

It's that last tongue-twister of a problem that the radio show really zeroed in on. Again, as NPR put it, "Chicken litter is exactly what it sounds like: a mix of chicken manure, dead chickens, feathers, and spilled feed that has been rendered down into a uniform substance and then marketed to the beef industry as cheap feed for cows." 

bq. "Obviously, it's going to be cheaper than corn or soy or other things that they feed cows," says Philpott. "So a rather significant amount of this stuff ends up being mixed into cow rations and fed to cows. . . . But chickens are fed various beef products \[throughout their lives\]. . . . And then what you're getting is cows eating cow protein, which as Americans probably remember, is the source of the mad cow scares."

Since the first cow to contract BSE in the U.S. was identified in April, it's probably only a matter of time before the chicken-litter problem really comes home to roost.