Russia Takes U.S. Chicken Off the Menu
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Stephanie Feldstein on

Since U.S. chickens are routinely treated with chlorine, Russia no longer wants them. Did this rejection make agribusiness take a closer look at their use of drugs to compensate for the unsanitary conditions in factory farms?

Of course not. Instead, agribusiness has decided to more aggressively market chicken products domestically, where those pesky food standards aren't as strict. According to Sergei Dankvert, head of Russia's farm produce watchdog, the USDA "has said it would not observe Russian food safety standards, without giving any explanation."

Maybe that missing explanation has something to do with the powerful agriculture lobby in this country. Thanks to them, it's perfectly fine, as far as the U.S. government is concerned, if its own citizens eat chickens who are given chlorine and arsenic-laced feed, cows pumped full of hormones, and pigs laden with antibiotics. These are just a few of the shady practices that enable factory farms to quickly grow animals who are freakishly large and to keep them in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions.

It's not just U.S. chickens being shunned by other countries. Around the world, American beef and pork have been in and out of favor, too. Late last year, Russia banned pork imports from several U.S. plants, and threatened to completely close the market due to the presence of oxytetracycline (a broad-spectrum antibiotic). But chicken seems to have some of the longest standing foreign enemies; the European Union has had its borders closed to U.S. poultry for years.

So, if you live in the U.S., keep an eye out for more variations on chicken wings, chicken nuggets, and other chicken parts in a supermarket near you, because there aren't too many other places that will take American chickens. But beware ... as Farm Sanctuary's Gene Baur says, "cheap" food usually comes with a price.

Paying more won't necessarily protect you or the animals. The best way to be sure you're not supporting inhumane factory farm practices or consuming chemicals in animal products is not to consume them at all. But if you're buying chicken (or any other animal product), locally-sourced organic is more likely to meet the standards of the rest of the world.

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