Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza seems to have led to an outbreak of misinformation and misunderstandings. Here are some of the most common myths about the avian influenza outbreak.
Myth: Turkey prices will rise.
Truth: Prices for whole turkeys have risen 3% since mid-April. Boneless, skinless breast meat (used in lunch meat) prices have risen 10% in the same time period. Turkey remains a healthy, economical protein.
Myth: There will be a Thanksgiving turkey shortage.
Truth: While the bird flu outbreak has been devastating to farmers involved, it has only affected 2.5% of annual turkey production in the US. And most of the birds affected have been larger toms instead of the smaller hens that are traditionally marketed at Thanksgiving.
Myth: Poultry is unsafe to eat.
Truth: Every flock is tested for avian influenza before going to market. This practice was put in place long before this outbreak. There is no reason to worry about the safety of poultry in the wake of avian influenza.
Myth: Only big “factory farms” get bird flu.
Truth: As of 5/27/15 there have been 179 cases reported in the US, and 18 of them (10%) have been “backyard” flocks. Some experts believe there may be more backyard cases that have not been reported. Small, backyard flocks are less likely to be tested than larger flocks.
The turkey farms affected have all been family farms, many of which have been raising turkeys for generations. The farmers and industry have done everything possible to prevent an outbreak, and experts are unsure how the virus is spreading. When more research is available, changes may be made in housing or farm management to prevent a similar outbreak in the future.
Everyone is talking turkey in November. Most early elementary classrooms spend some time learning about the holiday and the traditional Thanksgiving turkey. This year, the Iowa Turkey Federation has a new resource for Thanksgiving lesson plans: a non-fiction children’s book featuring a 6-year-old and his family’s turkey farm.
The book is appropriate for a broad age range. The text at the top of each page, from 6-year-old Adam’s perspective, is for younger children, while the in-depth information at the bottom of each page is directed at older students and adults.
The term “antibiotic-free” has started showing up on food labels and in marketing campaigns, as a way to differentiate between meat from animals treated with antibiotics and meat from animals who were not given antibiotics.
But the term “antibiotic-free” is misleading.
Because the truth is, all food is antibiotic-free.
Farmers sometimes use antibiotics to promote animal health, but they follow strict dosing guidelines from the FDA (Food & Drug Administration.) There are also strict withdrawal times for every medication, meaning that the farmer has to wait a certain amount of time after administering antibiotics to send the animal to market.
To ensure that the meat you eat is antibiotic-free, the US National Residue Program randomly tests treated animals for antibiotic residues before the flock goes to market. If an unsafe residue is found, the entire flock is held back until samples prove that the meat is safe.
So you can see, based on the steps American farmers take to use antibiotics correctly and the testing that is done to verify the meat is safe, there is no need to seek out “antibiotic-free” meat.
Because simply put, there are no antibiotics in meat.