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The FDA has issued a new guidance for farms that have more
than 3,000 egg-laying chickens. It purportedly aims to prevent salmonella and
other foodborne illnesses by isolating chickens from cats, rats, flies, and
wild birds—even though no evidence exists showing them to be of significant
risk at spreading salmonella. In fact, all but one outbreak of foodborne
illness in the US since 1995 has originated from industrial factory farms—not organic farms.
The FDA guidance tells
farmers to cover their outdoor pastures with either roofing or netting, or use
noise cannons to scare away wild birds. FDA also advocates walls around the
pasture, to prevent mice, rats, and cats from entering, and then put a roof
over it. Not only would this be cost-prohibitive, it also completely
contradicts what “free-range” is supposed to be about.
The problem, of
course, is that FDA is describing the commonplace practice where farmers house
their birds inside, giving them access to tiny porches that only 1% to 3% of
the chickens can use at a time. Write to the agency today and explain that
their proposed food safety measures are making unwarranted assumptions about
the way egg-producing chickens should be kept, and for organic farmers to follow
these guidelines would mean reversing all the benefits their methods provide.
Show them that the threat is not from small organic chicken farms, but from
filthy industrial CAFOs. Ask them to withdraw the guidance.
Please personalize and add your own comments if you have time!
Dear [Decision Maker],
Sincerely,[Your Name] [Your Address] [City, State ZIP]