As "Turkey Day" approaches, animal lovers cringe, food safety advocates become vigilante and turkey producers hope you are not reading the news.
They hope you have forgotten that scientists at the Bloomberg School's Center for a Livable Future and Arizona State's Biodesign Institute found Tylenol, Benadryl, caffeine, statins and Prozac in feather meal samples that included U.S. turkeys"a surprisingly broad spectrum of prescription and over-the-counter drugs," said study co-author Rolf Halden of Arizona State University.
They hope you have forgotten that ractopamine is still used in turkeys, the asthma-like growth enhancer to add muscle weight. According to a report by Food Animal Concerns
"While turkey companies are quick to say they do not use hormones or steroids, they rarely mention the beta agonist drug ractopamine. Unlike steroids or hormones which cannot legally be used in turkeys, ractopamine is marketed under the trade name Topmax™ 9 for use in turkeys as an artificial growth promoter...Many countries do not allow the use of ractopamine and have banned the import of meat produced with it.
How dangerous is Topmax? Here are its warnings.
"NOT FOR HUMAN USE. Warning. The active ingredient in Topmax, ractopamine hydrochloride, is a beta-adrenergic agonist. Individuals with cardiovascular disease should exercise special caution to avoid exposure. Not for use in humans. Keep out of the reach of children... When mixing and handling Topmax, use protective clothing, impervious gloves, protective eye wear, and a NIOSH-approved dust mask. Operators should wash thoroughly with soap and water after handling."
The warning adds an 800 number.
Monkeys fed ractopamine in a Canadian study "developed daily tachycardia"-- rapid heart beat. Rats fed ractopamine developed a constellation of birth defects like cleft palate, protruding tongue, short limbs, missing digits, open eyelids and enlarged hearts.
In its new drug application (no longer on the FDA website) Elanco, ractopamine's manufacturer, admitted that ractopamine produced "alterations" in turkey meat such as a "mononuclear cell infiltrate and myofiber degeneration," "an increase in the incidence of cysts," and differences, some "significant," in the weight of organs like hearts, kidneys and livers.
Turkey producers also hope you have forgotten about antibiotics. They are widely used in turkey production to produce weight gain with less feed and to stop disease outbreaks from crowded conditions. The Bloomberg School's Center for a Livable Future and Arizona State's Biodesign Institute found fluoroquinolones in eight of 12 samples of feather meal in a multi-state study. Fluoroquinolones are antibiotics used to treat serious bacterial infections in humans, especially for infections that have become resistant to other antibiotic. They have been banned for livestock use since 2005.
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