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What Drugs Was Your Thanksgiving Turkey On?

So far, 2011 has not been a great year for turkey producers. In May, an article in Clinical Infectious Diseases reported that half of U.S. meat from major grocery chains–turkey, beef, chicken and pork–harbors antibiotic resistant staph germs commonly called MRSA. Turkey had twice and even three times the MRSA of all other meats, in another study.

In June, Pfizer announced it was ending arsenic-containing chicken feed which no one realized they were eating anyway, but its arsenic-containing Histostat, fed to turkeys, continues. Poultry growers use inorganic arsenic, a recognized carcinogen, for “growth promotion, feed efficiency and improved pigmentation,” says the FDA. Yum.

And in August, Cargill Value Added Meats, the nation’s third-largest turkey processor, recalled 36 million pounds of ground turkey because of a salmonella outbreak, linked to one death and 107 illnesses in 31 states. Even as it closed its Springdale, Arkansas plant, steam cleaned its machinery and added “two additional anti-bacterial washes” to its processing operations, 185,000 more pounds were recalled the next month from the same plant.

Since the mad cow and Chinese melamine scandals of the mid 2000’s, a lot more people think about the food their food ate than before. But fewer people think about the drugs their food ingested. Read more

The Truth About Turkey

How much do you know about your Thanksgiving turkey? If you buy your turkey from a typical grocery store–and most Americans do–you might not realize that the approximately 46 million turkeys consumed every year come from a factory farm.

But if Thanksgiving is truly about offering gratitude for what we have, it seems fitting to also be grateful to the turkey that many of us will eat for dinner. We ought to think about how that turkey lived before ending up on our tables. Read more

Cargill Recalls 36 Million Pounds of Ground Turkey

Cargill announced Wednesday it is recalling almost 36 million pounds of ground turkey products that may be contaminated with a multi-drug resistant strain of Salmonella Heidelberg, a pathogen linked to at least 76 illnesses across the United States and one death in California.

The recalled meat came from a single processing facility in Springdale, Arkansas, but ended up in dozens of different ground turkey products sold nationwide under a variety of brand names including Honeysuckle White, Shady Brook Farms, Riverside, Aldi’s Fit and Active Fresh, Spartan, Giant Eagle, Kroger and Safeway. Read more

Giving up the Bird on Thanksgiving

When we moved into our renovated house in late October 2005 I said to my husband, “We should host Thanksgiving this year.” We finally had a real dining room after living in our shoebox on the Upper West Side.

“No one will come,” he said.

I knew he was right. No one wants a turkey-less Thanksgiving. I resigned myself to a meal at someone else’s house, cringing at the sight of a gravy-dripping bird proudly displayed in the center of a dining room table.

It was either that or dinner for three, which my husband, daughter and I did one year.

This year there’s a twist in the family drama. Various dysfunctions among siblings, parents and even a friend prevent others from hosting. My dining room will be christened for Thanksgiving. What I’m most grateful for is the chance to gather nearly a dozen people for a meat-less harvest meal. Read more