What Turkey Producers Donít Want You to Know
A Meat and Dairy Industries Article from All-Creatures.org

FROM Martha Rosenberg, OpEdNews.com
November 2020

As "Turkey Day" approaches, animal lovers cringe, food safety advocates become vigilante and turkey producers hope you are not reading the news, about realities they hope you have not heard about or that you have forgotten or continue to ignore.

farmed Turkeys
Thanksgiving turkeys endure extreme suffering - Photo by Martha Rosenberg

As "Turkey Day" approaches, animal lovers cringe, food safety advocates become vigilante and turkey producers hope you are not reading the news.

They hope you have forgotten that scientists at the Bloomberg School's Center for a Livable Future and Arizona State's Biodesign Institute found Tylenol, Benadryl, caffeine, statins and Prozac in feather meal samples that included U.S. turkeys"a surprisingly broad spectrum of prescription and over-the-counter drugs," said study co-author Rolf Halden of Arizona State University.

They hope you have forgotten that ractopamine is still used in turkeys, the asthma-like growth enhancer to add muscle weight. According to a report by Food Animal Concerns:

"While turkey companies are quick to say they do not use hormones or steroids, they rarely mention the beta agonist drug ractopamine. Unlike steroids or hormones which cannot legally be used in turkeys, ractopamine is marketed under the trade name Topmaxô 9 for use in turkeys as an artificial growth promoter...Many countries do not allow the use of ractopamine and have banned the import of meat produced with it.

How dangerous is Topmax? Here are its warnings.

"NOT FOR HUMAN USE. Warning. The active ingredient in Topmax, ractopamine hydrochloride, is a beta-adrenergic agonist. Individuals with cardiovascular disease should exercise special caution to avoid exposure. Not for use in humans. Keep out of the reach of children... When mixing and handling Topmax, use protective clothing, impervious gloves, protective eye wear, and a NIOSH-approved dust mask. Operators should wash thoroughly with soap and water after handling."

The warning adds an 800 number.

Monkeys fed ractopamine in a Canadian study "developed daily tachycardia"-- rapid heart beat. Rats fed ractopamine developed a constellation of birth defects like cleft palate, protruding tongue, short limbs, missing digits, open eyelids and enlarged hearts.

In its new drug application (no longer on the FDA website) Elanco, ractopamine's manufacturer, admitted that ractopamine produced "alterations" in turkey meat such as a "mononuclear cell infiltrate and myofiber degeneration," "an increase in the incidence of cysts," and differences, some "significant," in the weight of organs like hearts, kidneys and livers.


Turkey producers also hope you have forgotten about antibiotics. They are widely used in turkey production to produce weight gain with less feed and to stop disease outbreaks from crowded conditions. The Bloomberg School's Center for a Livable Future and Arizona State's Biodesign Institute found fluoroquinolones in eight of 12 samples of feather meal in a multi-state study. Fluoroquinolones are antibiotics used to treat serious bacterial infections in humans, especially for infections that have become resistant to other antibiotic. They have been banned for livestock use since 2005.

Almost half of turkey samples purchased at U.S. grocery stores harbored fecal bacteria reported the Los Angeles Times. Serious strains of antibiotic resistant salmonella called Salmonella Heidelberg and Salmonella Hadar forced recalls of turkey products from Jennie-O Turkey. The resistant salmonella strains were so deadly, officials warned that disposed meat should be in sealed garbage cans to protect wild animals. Yes, even wildlife is threatened by the factory farm-created scourges.

Turkey producers hope you have never heard about the many diseases plaguing turkeys and the medicines and vaccines given. Turkeys can suffer from Aspergillosis (Brooder Pneumonia), Avian Influenza, Avian Leucosis, Histomoniasis, Coccidiosis, Coronavirus, Erysipelas, Typhoid, TB, Fowl Cholera, Mites, Lice, Herpes (yes Herpes) Clostridial dermatitis, Cellulitis and much moreand the treatments are often as unsettling as the conditions. Consider, for example, the anti-coccidial drug halofuginone which Justia U.S. Law says"is toxic to fish and aquatic life" and "an irritant to eyes and skin." Users should take care to "Keep [it] out of lakes, ponds, and streams" says the Register. A few years ago, scientists even found the endocrine disrupter Bisphenol A (BPA) in fresh turkey.

The Turkeys That Didn't Reach Your Table

Turkey producers hope you have forgotten about avian flu that killed so many turkeys in the U.S. in 2015--at least 7.5 million--that turkey giant Jennie-O laid off 233 workers. Turkey giant Butterball hopes you have forgotten that several of its employees were convicted of sickening animal cruelty and that veterinarian Dr. Sarah Mason admits tipping Butterball off about an imminent raid by Hoke County detectives to investigate abuses against turkeys.

Even before 2015's bird flu in which turkeys were killed by suffocation in a way few can stand to watch, industrial produced turkeys had tragic lives. Unable to mate because of the huge chests they are bred for and many barely able to walk, the chemically-induced fast growth puts turkeys at risk of sudden death from cardiac problems, aortic rupture, (diagnosed by blood clots around the turkey's lungs) hypertensive angiopathy and pulmonary edema.

When I interviewed a "live hanger" who worked at House of Raeford Farms turkey facility in Raeford, NC, he told me the turkeys arrive at the slaughterhouse with broken and dislocated limbs. When you try to remove them from their crates, their legs twist completely around, offering no resistance he told me. "The turkeys must be in a lot of pain but they don't cry out. The only sound you hear as you hang them is trucks being washed out to go back and get a new load."

Some can forget the suffering and karma of the turkey industry this holiday. But they forget the antibiotics, ractopamine, animal drugs and vaccines and possibly fluoroquinolones, statins and antidepressants they are ingesting at their own peril.

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