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In today's world, we have all kinds of information at our fingertips, but how do you know what to believe? We're here to get to the truth behind some myths about the poultry community.
MYTH: If a chicken or turkey is given antibiotics, then the chicken or turkey meat will have antibiotic residue in it.
FACT: There are no antibiotics in the poultry you buy.
Nearly ¾ of Americans believe antibiotics are present in most chicken meat.
The reality? All poultry you buy is technically "antibiotic free" - federal rules require that if any antibiotics are used on a farm they must have cleared the animals' systems before they can leave the farm.
So why are the birds given antibiotics? Just like people, animals sometimes get sick, and treating illness is a responsible part of animal care. When this happens, farmers work with animal health experts and veterinarians to determine if an antibiotic is needed.
MYTH: Chickens and turkeys are raised in cages on cruel factory farms
FACT: No chicken or turkey meat you buy is raised in a cage. Ever.
Most chickens and turkeys raised for meat in the U.S. live in large, open structures called houses, where they are free to roam, munch on food, drink water and socialize with other birds. In fact, but they tend to huddle together in one area - especially around feeders.
The term "factory" farm is a slang term used to make it seem like your food is raised in cruel "factory" type conditions run by faceless corporations. This couldn't be further from the truth! Ninety-eight percent of farms are family farms that have just gotten bigger over the years and have implemented newer and better technology.
MYTH: Chickens and turkeys are given hormones and steroids to make them grow faster AND bigger.
FACT: There are no added hormones or steroids in any poultry meat.
Nearly 80% of Americans believe this myth.
The reality? No chicken or turkey sold or raised in the U.S. is given hormones or steroids. In fact, the USDA has banned all hormones and steroids in poultry since the 1950s.
Chickens and turkeys are bigger and grow faster these days because of good breeding, proper nutrition, care by a veterinarian and better living conditions. These all contribute to the healthier growth of birds.
If hormones and steroids aren't permitted, then why is there a label? Labels that read: "raised without hormones or steroids" or "no hormones added" must also include a statement saying that no hormones and steroids are used in the production of any poultry raised in the United States. So if you're deciding between a package of chicken that says "no hormones added" and one that doesn't, you can rest assured that neither of them do.
MYTH: Every Egg Is a Baby Chicken
FACT: Every egg COULD be a baby chicken.
The eggs raised for us to eat, called table eggs, are not fertilized, so you can rest assured that the eggs for sale at your local grocery store are unfertilized and could not hatch into chickens even if you wanted them to.
A baby chicken only occurs if the egg has been fertilized - this is the job of the rooster! The fertilized eggs are sent to the hatchery where they will hatch and be sent to a family farm to be raised for meat.
MYTH: Chickens and turkeys are genetically modified.
TRUTH: Chickens and turkeys are NOT genetically modified.
The reality? There are no GMO chickens or turkeys commercially available.
In late 2015, genetically engineered salmon was the first GMO animal to be approved, but it will not be on the market and available for purchase for a few years.
If chickens and turkeys aren't genetically modified, then how do they get so big? The answer is surprisingly simple - traditional breeding. The most critical part of this breeding process is identifying which chickens and turkeys are the strongest and healthiest - and then they are bred together. Today's breeding farms are equipped with the right technologies to create continuous small improvements in each generation. The result of decades of breeding and thousands of generations of birds is the larger and healthier birds that you see today.
So, yes, today's chickens and turkeys are bigger and grow faster than their ancestors. However, through this highly technical and closely monitored traditional breeding process, we also ensure today's birds are stronger and healthier than ever before.
MYTH: Eggs have high cholesterol levels
TRUTH: Recent research has found that eggs don't affect your blood cholesterol levels that much.
These findings mean that regularly consuming eggs is safe, even for those at risk for heart disease. What really negatively impacts blood levels of cholesterol are trans fats, saturated fats, and simple sugars.
While eggs do contain a notable amount of cholesterol - 211 milligrams per egg, which is 70% of the recommended daily cholesterol intake - this is not a huge health concern. It is far more important for your heart health to stick to a diet low in trans-fat and saturated fat.