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Bird Flu Found in Tennessee Chicken Flock on Tyson-Contracted Farm

The first confirmed case of a highly pathogenic bird flu has been found in a chicken flock in Tennessee, Reuters reports. Food giant Tyson Foods, which owns the 73,500 birds, said it would cull the birds and take other precautions to stop the virus from entering the food system.

As with most of America’s large-scale meat operations, Tyson’s chickens are raised under concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), where thousands of animals are raised in confined quarters, and fed antibiotics and growth-promoting drugs. This is a recipe for disaster, just waiting for potentially devastating outbreaks.

Eighty percent of the antibiotics used in the U.S. are used by industrial agriculture for purposes of growth promotion and preventing diseases that would otherwise make CAFOs unviable — when animals are packed into tight quarters, fed unnatural diets and living in filth, disease flourishes.

Besides bird-specific diseases, CAFOs also contribute to the spread of antibiotic-resistant diseases in humans, such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which can cause deadly infections of the skin, blood and lungs.

Tyson Foods announced in 2015 that it’s “striving to eliminate the use of human antibiotics from its U.S. broiler chicken flocks by the end of September 2017,” but that does not address the underlying problem of massive amounts of animals in tight quarters. While the FDA just introduced a policy designed to keep certain antibiotics from being used to promote growth in food animals, it’s voluntary, so it’s up to you to fight this with your pocketbook.

Refuse to buy CAFO-raised meats. Shop your local farmers markets for fresh, free-range meats and dairy, and in your grocer’s, purchase only certified organic meats.
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