How about some “Poop”in your Soup?

Fecal SoupThis is one of my “awareness posts.” Many people are not aware of how modern food winds up on their plates and it’s my joy to bring you this moment of enlightenment.

Most of us would never knowingly eat food with fecal material in it. (That’s shit in the soup for those who don’t speak Latin) Yet, the USDA allows chicken processors to have up to 15% of the weight of processed chicken to be the fluids that are absorbed in the processing plants.

It took me a while to find the specifications on this.  The USDA says “A process would be considered under control if there is a reasonable confidence (i.e., 95% statistical confidence) that a given package in a lot retains no more water than is unavoidable. That is, considering measurement and processing variables, there should be 95% confidence that the continuing measurements are within 20% of the moisture level determined at that establishment.”

This information can be found in its entirety at

Well, as Jeff Foxworthy says, “It use ta could.”  They moved the file to here.

When the chickens are run through automated processing, their bowels get spilled everywhere and the mess is washed off at the end. That’s not the problem.  Something like that could happen when you process a bird at home.

The problem is in the volume of what’s being processed. Processing plants process birds by the minute.  At the end of the line they drop into a chilling tank. Over time the water and feces become “fecal soup” and get absorbed into the tissues of the chicken.

Sure, they put some chlorine in the water to kill the bacteria, but do you really want to eat that?

Heirloom chickens, the kind raised by your grandparents take twice as long to mature, but are twice as tasty as the dull, flaccid gray matter that passes for chicken today. Try some “pastured poultry” from a local farmer who processes each one by hand and you will be startled at the difference.

Yes, they will cost a little more. If that bothers you, you can continue to eat the other stuff. Just be sure to factor in your medical bills and health insurance deductions when you compare the costs. You may be pleasantly surprised. It’s always fun when it actually cost less to have better tasting food.

John Langlois

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