Food standards embarrassing
Animal rights have primarily been associated with an issue of “the far left.” The topic normally is not the first on the list for heated discussion, especially with America facing a tanking economy and an enormous federal deficit. But with skyrocketing unemployment, Americans are looking for cheap food.
That’s where McDonald’s and Target comes in. Both corporations dropped egg supplier Sparboe Farms. According to a report by the Associated Press, the split came after Mercy for Animals, a pro-animal rights group, gathered pictures from Sparboe Farms showing “a worker swinging a bird around by its feet, hens packed into cramped cages, male chicks being tossed into plastic bags to suffocate and workers cutting off the tips of chicks’ beaks.”
This situation was not only inhumane to animals, but also insanitary to the point that it risked consumer health. The treatment of the animals costs more to farmers, therefore costing more to the consumer. This brings up the debate of whether cheaper and more dangerous food is better than more expensive and safer food.
This should not be a debate. The issue at hand is the safety of what citizens need to survive.
While the economy is an issue, so is food safety. People need jobs, but they need food more. Letting the quality of food production deteriorate puts public health at risk.
Using Sparboe Farms as a prime example of what is happening, examining actual federal guidelines pertaining to free-range poultry is also concerning. According to the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, free range certification can occur as long as “producers … demonstrate to the agency that the poultry has been allowed access to the outside.” The vagueness in this statement lets farms treat their poultry as cruelly if not worse than Sparboe.
People barely eat fresh food anyway. The United States has a climbing obesity rate, and if society wants to teach the next generation proper nutrition, it needs to understand food preparation. The sanitation of poultry for Americans today is upsetting enough, but the consequences for future Americans are much worse.
There are a lot of cuts families need to make today. Trying to argue that animals treated less humanely costs less just shows how low the bar has been set. The reputation of the United States has been built around its commitment to excellence in every aspect of government. While there may be flaws, there should not be such a persistent tolerance of cheap food at the cost of severe animal abuse.
As questionable sanitation comes more into play, both the government and mass retailers need to realize that there are priorities beyond the short-term finances. They need to think about their actual consumers, and what it means to have a conscience.
— Megan Hurley is a journalism sophomore. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.