nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Friday, July 30, 2010

Chicken Producers Are Clucking About Additives To "Natural" Foods

So chicken injected with water is not "natural."  And?

According to the Assoc Press (July 30), the chicken industry is arguing about whether some companies can legitimately label their product natural if they inject water or broth into the meat to make it more tender and flavorful.  Of particular note is that the lobbying effort directed at the US Dept of Agriculture is funded by companies that don't inject anything, against their competitors who do.

This whole obsession with natural and organic foods is a tempest in a teapot.  I agree that we need to make sure manufacturers aren't injecting arsenic (which is found in nature, by the way) into our food.  And I think there is enough evidence to be concerned about animals raised with hormonal additives or injections; although the data is far from complete (most of these additives exert their effect, then disappear from the body, just like what happens when hormones are produced by our own bodies).

But to get excited about whether injecting water into chicken and labeling it "natural" is a Truth In Advertising issue....No.  And what about injecting chicken broth?  That's not natural either?  It's chicken, for heaven's sake.

Next thing you know, food companies will be arguing about whether chickens confined in a building can be labeled "natural."  Wait...we're already there:  the "free range" phenomenon (On second thought, the USDA has not regulated the term "free range" yet; obviously asleep at the wheel).

Millions will be spent lobbying the USDA for stricter definition of the terms "natural" and "organic."  And it has nothing to do with your health.  It's about taking more of your money, and businesses competing for it. 

I'm not going to get started on the bogus "natural and organic" foods fad.  I've ranted about that elsewhere.  Suffice to say that the benefits claimed are a classic example of the placebo effect.

Hemlock is a natural product.  It didn't do Socrates much good.

Doc D


WarmSocks said...

This has been a problem with turkeys for years. I hate having to read the fine print to see what they slipped into my meat.

Commercial "100% natural chicken broth" has an ingredient list: chicken stock, sea salt, salt, sugar, natural flavoring, dehydrated onions, yeast extract, chicken fat, carrots, celery, onions.

People who have food allergies have to be very careful to purchase poultry that hasn't been injected with allergens (onions, in this example).

Doc D said...

Is the broth that's injected identical to commercial broth (canned or cubed)? I don't know.

Onions cause contact reactions--dermatitis & conjunctivitis. I'm aware of only single case reports of more serious reactions. Could be, I just am not aware of any controlled studies. On the other hand, I'm hard pressed to come up with any food product that somebody doesn't react to.

I can't eat raw onions myself. It's not an allergy. They just upset my stomach. As you probably know, allergy is an IgE-mediated immunologic response.

The focus of my post was more about how these companies could care less about health. They just want to use regulation to make more money than their competitors.

Also I read somewhere that the law passed back in the 90's that regulated the words "natural" and "organic" addressed only the methods of production, not the product itself. Curious that they wrote it that way, but it left some ambiguity (on purpose?).

Your comments are always interesting. Thanks.

WarmSocks said...

Hmmm... I don't recall what's in the stuff they add to poultry, we just make sure that we buy birds that haven't been injected with anything.

It's amazing how that law was worded, and what's considered "natural" for labeling purposes. Things can be organic, but not qualify to be labeled that way, due to the hoops that have to be jumped through to qualify for certification. I agree with you: it's more about money than about what's healthy.

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