Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

The Pinkness Of Your Bacon May Be A Result Of Illegal Chemicals

China just arrested 14 involved with feeding illegal chemicals to pigs.

bacon

Photo: Robert S. Donovan (flickr)

That fresh, pink look in pork and chicken products comes from the questionable (and in China, illegal) use of certain chemicals in animal feed.

A new food safety scandal has arisen in China only a few weeks after the Chinese Public Security Bureau detained 96 people for selling tainted milk powder.

This week, China is investigating 14 people, 6 government employees, and 1,300 pig farms in response to their use of clenbuterol in pig feed, a dangerous and illegal additive. When consumed by humans, clenbuterol can cause gastrointestinal illnesses, cancer, and in rare cases, death.

Clenbuterol is used because it makes a pig’s skin thinner. The thin skin creates pinker meat, which gives it the appearance of being fresher for longer on grocery store shelves.

Like Chinese pork farmers, American poultry farmers have found that birds that were fed arsenic-based pesticides had pinker and fresher looking carcasses. The FDA approved the usage of small amounts of arsenic in chicken feed in 1951 to improve “the cosmetic appearance of bird meat.”

Read More:

  • China: Pigs Fed Illegal Additive (The New York Times)
  • Think tainted Chinese pork is scary? Check out the nearest supermarket meat case (Grist)
  • Supermarket chicken harbours superbug (CBC/Radio-Canada)
Julie Rooney

Julie Rooney is a vegetarian, musician, and artist who primarily works in video and new media. Currently she is the director of Low Road Gallery, a non-profit contemporary art gallery located in Greencastle, Indiana.

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