September 21, 2010

Harvesting Chicken Carcasses in China

HEALTH - The following series of 10 photographs may make you think twice about buying chicken at a restaurant when visiting China.

You see full grown chickens are actually pretty violent creatures. They will routinely attack and kill each other if they feel crowded, threatened or intimidated. (If you thought chickens were peaceful creatures you are dead wrong.) In a stuffy, crowded chicken pen this chicken-vs-chicken violence happens nightly and by morning there's often several dead chicken carcasses which need to be removed.

In North America chicken farmers usually throw out the carcasses because keeping them to be used for food would violate the health code (because the chicken could have been diseased or have something else wrong with it). But in China this throwing out of chicken carcasses isn't done... instead the chickens (regardless of how or why they died) are sold to men who collect the chickens, pluck them, soak them in a red dye and then sell them to restaurants or grocery stores.

That red dye really makes the chickens look tasty, doesn't it? Its all very deceptive.

In November 2009 two Chinese men were sentenced to death for selling tainted milk. The milk was contaminated with melamine, which causes kidney failure and kidney stones. When added to watered-down milk it gives a false protein level which fools safety inspectors testing for protein levels.

China has a long history of food poisoning scandals and has been trying unsuccessfully to crack down on tainted food. The death penalty doesn't seem to be much of a discouragement and the Chinese government's corruption levels is such that local safety officials often turn a blind eye to unsafe food production.

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