Friday, March 5, 2010


With consumers clamoring for foods that are safe for them, the processing industry has to be doubly careful in avoiding practices that may raise questions concerning their adverse impact on the quality of products offered. If organic foods industry is able to capture a significant portion of the market for processed foods, the blame lies at the door steps of the main stream industry which ignored consumer concerns for too long. The use of antibiotics, artificial hormones and other unnatural inputs during production and processing of meat products has considerably alienated the consumer. The latest irritant is the indiscriminate use of salt in chicken processing which has attracted wide spread criticism even from within the industry. American food industry seems to be insensitive to such criticisms as reflected by the following report.

"Americans consume over 20 billion pounds of poultry annually; the California Poultry Federation estimates that the percentage of chicken injected with sodium has increased from 16 percent to more than 30 percent. The Federation is advocating for stricter labeling laws because most of its members do not use sodium or water injections in processing. Increased sodium consumption can lead to serious health concerns. According to a recent study from the University of California at San Francisco, reducing sodium intake by 1,200 mg per day, the equivalent of one-half teaspoon of salt, could lead to a decrease in the number of heart disease cases. The study also finds that reduced sodium intake could save in health care costs".
What is intriguing is that the present level of knowledge in the field of food technology is sufficient to preempt use of salt to preserve chicken though technologies involved may be marginally costlier to deploy. The hyper response to food safety issues by the American public because of the spate of food poisoning episodes that were reported during the last few years might be the reason for the chicken industry to use salt considered effective in preventing bacterial infection. In deploying any technology industry must weigh the risks and benefits arising there from before adopting the right one. In order to insure against possibility of some contamination due to negligence at the shop floor, is it justifiable to put to risk the lives of millions of consumers who will be affected by high sodium in the product?

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