1. Scary Food Myth: Today’s farm animals are raised on “factory farms” in poor conditions. Truth: Many of today’s farms may be larger than farms of the past, but the farms are also have better animal care practices, enhanced nutrition and housing. Indoor housing protects animals from predators, disease and extreme weather. Modern housing is well-ventilated, temperature-controlled and scientifically designed to meet an animal’s specific needs.
2. Scary Food Myth: Chickens, turkeys, laying hens and pigs are fed hormones to make them grow bigger and faster. Truth: Federal law prohibits hormone and steroid use in all poultry and pig production in the United States. All chicken, turkey, pork and eggs are free of added hormones and steroids regardless of whether it is labeled.
3. Scary Food Myth: Farmers only care about profits, not animal care. Truth: Farmers’ top priority is ensuring their animals receive the best care possible. If the animals are not appropriately cared for, they will not produce quality beef, eggs, pork, milk or chicken. Not only is quality animal care essential to a profitable farm – it is the right thing to do.
4. Scary Food Myth: Cattle are the primary cause for climate change. Truth: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data show that all of agriculture contributes nine percent of America’s greenhouse gas emissions. By contrast, transportation accounts for 26 percent.
5. Scary Food Myth: Farmers irresponsibly use antibiotics. Truth: After Jan. 2017, veterinary oversight is required for the use of medically important antibiotics, though it is important to note farmers and ranchers already routinely consulted with their vet before using antibiotics. Farmers work closely with veterinarians to develop herd health plans and when/if an antibiotic is needed for an animal to treat, prevent or control a disease, the farmer consults with their veterinarian to ensure an antibiotic is the best solution or if there is another form of treatment that will work better. Any antibiotic in animal feed requires a prescription from a veterinarian first.
6. Scary Food Myth: Inspectors rarely visit meat plants. Truth: Few industries in America are regulated and inspected as comprehensively as meat and poultry plants. U.S. meat packing plants where livestock are handled and processed are inspected continuously. Large plants may have two dozen inspectors on site in a two-shift day. Plants that process meat or poultry, but do not handle live animals are inspected daily.
7. Scary Food Myth: Meat is full of antibiotics and other drugs. Truth: Antibiotics are sometimes used in livestock production – but never in meat production. Under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules, farmers and ranchers must wait a defined period to send animals to market if they have been given antibiotics or other medications. In meat and poultry plants, USDA inspectors sample carcasses and organs to ensure no residue violations are found.
8. Scary Food Myth: Hormone use in beef production is a health concern. Truth: Hormones like estrogen are used in modern beef production to increase the amount of beef that can be harvested from cattle. However, these hormones are the same as, or synthetic versions of those naturally produced by cattle. The estrogen that is used in beef production, for example, is used at levels that are a fraction of what is naturally found in soybean oil, soybeans, eggs and what is produced by the human body.
9. Scary Food Myth: Nitrite in cured meats is linked to diseases like cancer. Truth: The U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP), which is considered the “gold standard” in determining whether substances cause cancer, completed a multi-year study in which rats and mice were fed high levels of sodium nitrite. The study, finalized in 2000, found that nitrite was not associated with cancer. NTP maintains a list of chemicals found to be carcinogenic. Sodium nitrite is not on that list.
10. Scary Food Myth: Animal welfare in meat plants is not monitored. Truth: Under the Humane Slaughter Act, all livestock must be treated humanely. They must be given water at all times, given feed if they are held at a plant for an extended period and they must be handled in a way that minimizes stress. Federal veterinarians monitor animal handling continually and may take a variety of actions — including shutting a plant down — for violations.
11. Scary Food Myth: Alternatives like almond, soy, coconut and rice milk are healthier than dairy milk. Truth: Milk alternatives use lots of additives to try to match the taste and nutritional profile of real milk. Cow’s milk is simply milk with added vitamins A and D. It has more nutrients that occur naturally – including eight grams of high-quality protein in every glass – with no added sugar. And the health benefits like improved bone health, a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes and lower blood pressure in adults are supported by decades of science. It’s nature’s original protein drink.
12. Scary Food Myth: Milk is full of antibiotics. Truth: All milk is tested for antibiotics before it leaves the farm, and again before it is sent to the store. If milk tests positive for even the slightest amount of antibiotics, it is safely discarded and never reaches the store.
13. Scary Food Myth: It’s not natural for humans to drink cows’ milk; no other mammals drink milk from other animals. Truth: Decades of research have proven that cows’ milk does a human body good. Humans do a lot of things other mammals don’t. We grow crops, read books, fly planes and make music. You wouldn’t call those things “unnatural.”
14. Scary Food Myth: Milk is full of dangerous hormones. Truth: All cow’s milk – whether conventional or organic – naturally contains minuscule amounts of hormones (actually, plants contain hormones, too!). The majority of these hormones are eliminated in the pasteurization process; the rest are broken down safely and completely by your body when you digest the milk. Some milk also contains tiny amounts of a synthetic hormone call rbST, which has been closely studied and declared harmless by multiple organizations, including the FDA. Multiple studies over more than two decades agree that milk from cows treated with rbST is just as safe as milk from untreated cows.
15. Scary Food Myth: Pasteurization destroys the nutrients in milk. Truth: Pasteurization kills germs, not nutrients.
All posts are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of the Animal Ag Alliance.