Saturday, July 4, 2015

Chicken ---> UTI ---> Kidney Failure

Who knew that chicken could be so dangerous?  In the hands of the Chicken Mafia, chicken has become a weaponized grade of biological warfare against you and your family, up to and including chronic disability or death.

First, some background on UTI infections in humans, then how UTI's are linked to the Chicken Mafia and the raw chicken you buy in grocery stores.

E.coli that get into the crotch area can migrate into the urethra, then into the bladder, then
the kidneys.  Once this process starts, it's hard to stop, or eliminate, especially with Superbugs.

Urinary Tract Infections in Humans

Kidney Foundation of Canada says 500,000 Canadian women seek treatment for an UTI each year (Ref).  CFP, a medical journal for family physicians, outlined a few scary facts about Urinary Tract Infections ("UTI").
  • 50% of women will have a UTI sometime in their life.
  • About 3% of women will get medical help at least once per year for a UTI.
  • Some women with serial or chronic infections will seek treatment 3 times per year.
  • A 1996 study in the US New England Journal of Medicine showed the UTI incidence rate is 0.5 to 0.7 cases per person-year.

For general info on UTI's, see CWHN.  The classic causes for getting a UTI are generally listed as:
  • Weakened immune system
  • Complication of pregnancy, from incomplete emptying of bladder, or hormonal changes affecting the vaginal pH and/or protective flora.
  • Postmenopausal age, caused by infrequent urination, incomplete emptying of bladder, or hormonal changes affecting the vaginal pH and/or protective flora.
  • Insufficient hydration, causing reduced quantity of urine, and infrequent voiding
  • Intercourse, especially with a new partner, or after a long period of abstinance
  • Taking baths, soaking, or swimming in polluted waters
  • Improper toilet hygiene (eg. wiping from rear to front, etc.)
  • Incontinence, or failing to change incontinence briefs on a frequent basis
All of these recommendations were based on the assumption that the E.coli was coming from the woman's own gut, out her anus, then getting cross-contaminated to her vagina and urethra area.  No standard medical texts list the UTI risks associated with purchasing raw chicken from the grocery store, or preparing chicken in the home kitchen as a family meal.

Until now, that is.

Grocery Store Chicken & Human UTI's

Today, with genetic testing and sequencing, we can tell the source and timing of when the E.coli involved in a UTI has come from.  Today, we know that the E.coli involved in most UTI's comes directly from E.coli contamination on the surface of commercially produced raw chicken, that E.coli is then spread to hands, kitchen surfaces, or other foods by cross-contamination, or by incomplete cooking of the chicken.  The E.coli contamination is eventually transferred to the woman's crotch area by contaminated hands, or ingested by contaminated foods.  If ingested, the E.coli sets up colonies in the woman's gut.  E.coli in the woman's stool eventually create fecal residues on skin surfaces that are eventually cross-contaminated to her vaginal area, causing a UTI.

Apparently, the naturally occurring E.coli in a person's gut are not the source of the E.coli that cause UTI's, as previously assumed.

The E.coli that cause human UTI's originate and primarily come from commercial chickens produced by the Chicken Mafia.

The Atlantic provides a good summary of the issues.

In 2001,  Dr. Mazzulli published a peer reviewed research paper in Canadian Journal of Urology which showed that community acquired (ie. non-hospital) Urinary Tract Infections ("UTI") in humans were infections by single organisms in over 90% of cases, and E.coli was that one infecting pathogen in 91.8% of the cases in Toronto.  That means that E.coli is the sole UTI protagonist in  82.6% of all UTI's.  Dr. Mazzulli also showed that antibiotic resistance of UTI pathogens ranged from 0% resistance (for antibiotic Ciprofloxin) to 41% ( antibiotic Penicillin).  Dr. Mazzulli also stated that "current studies suggest that there are no regional differences in resistance rates among community-acquired urinary tract pathogens across Canada."

Dr. Manges of McGill University, Montreal lead a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases in June 7, 2012 that showed more than 85% of human UTI are caused by extra-intestinal E.coli that originate from raw chicken intended as human food. "Extra-intestinal" means the bacteria live outside of the intestinal tract. 

In March 2012, Dr. Manges from Canada's McGill University and 7 other researchers performed detailed analysis on 1,561 E.coli samples, then published their results, this time through the US Centre for Disease Control  in their Emerging Infectious Diseases publication.  They explained that UTI infections afflict 6–8 million US residents each year, with between 130 to 175 million cases diagnosed worldwide. Estimated direct health care costs related to uncomplicated UTIs in the United States are from $1 to $2 billion per year.  With the growing antibiotic resistance of these UTI pathogens, treatment has moved from "straightforward" to "complicated", the risks of treatment failure are higher, and the cost of UTI treatment is increasing.  The study concluded:
  • Retail broiler chickens sold in grocery stores are a likely reservoir for ExPEC (Extra-intestinal Pathogenic E.coli) in humans.
  • The possibility that ExPEC causing UTIs and other extraintestinal infections in humans could originate from a food animal reservoir raises public health concern.
  • New interventions may be needed to reduce the level of food contamination and risk for transmission.
Maryn McKenna, a leading infectious disease journalist and the author of Superbug: The Fatal Menace of MRSA, wrote "Touching raw meat that contains the resistant bacteria, or coming into environmental contact with it — say, by eating lettuce that was cross-contaminated — are easy ways to become infected.”

Note that 50% of the pathogens on chicken are Superbugs, resistant to 1 or more antibiotics.  If you get a UTI from one of these Superbugs, it may be months, years, or never to get an antibiotic that will totally cure that UTI infection.  The longer the infection continues, the greater risk of it growing into a kidney infection that may cause permanent damage to one or both of your kidneys. If your acute kidney infection becomes chronic, end state kidney disease will eventually require dialysis.  Once on dialysis, there is a mortality rate of 10% per year, 60% probability of death in first 5 years.  In other words, chicken bugs can kill you.

ESGNI-004, a pan-European study, reported on the incidence of hospital-acquired UTIs of 3.55/1,000 patient days, of which 31.9% of UTI's went on to develop plain sepsis, 2% severe sepsis, 0.3% septic shock and 1.7% multi-organ failure.  Antimicrobial treatment delivered by the hospital for the UTI and subsequent complications was not considered adequate in 19.8% of all cases.

ABC US News, July 11, 2012 | World News

In concert with this ABC News documentary on the chicken connection to UTI's, discussed on Food Safety News, Richard Besser, who formerly served as acting head of the CDC, shared a different view with Diane Sawyer, saying:

“I think these scientists are right, but I think it’s going to be impossible to prove.  It's different from when you get a stomach bug, or a stomach flu, where you eat something and within a couple days you’re sick and you can actually test the food and see if it matches. Here if you eat contaminated chicken, contaminated with a superbug, that superbug can set up shop in your gut and it may not be until several months later that you get a bladder infection. At that point there’s no way to connect it to something you ate months before.”

Besser emphasized the importance of proper food handling, but blamed antibiotic use in animal agriculture as the underlying problem.

“The solution is going to be on the farm,” said Besser. “CDC for decades has been concerned about getting antibiotics off the farm as a form of feed. You don’t want to feed antibiotics to animals that we’re going to eat.”

What About Small Flock Chicken?

Most or all Small Flock poultry producers do not use antibiotics as growth promoters.  This minimizes or eliminates the formation of Superbugs.

Secondly a farmer with a sharp knife can produce chicken that has 96% less contamination by pathogens.

For the Chicken Mafia, their large scale mechanized killing machines usually spray chicken manure and/or other contaminants from one bird to other birds.  The Chicken Mafia regularly puts raw chicken onto Canadian grocery store shelves that have 30% to 80% of the birds significantly contaminated with deadly pathogens (Ref:  CFIA and University of Guelph studies).

Small Flockers give full disclosure to our customers.  Unlike the Chicken Mafia, Small Flockers do not delay, deny, distract, defend, destroy, deride, and deflect.

Recommendations for Avoiding UTI's and E.coli Infections

SFPFC recommends that if you dare touch, prepare, or eat Chicken Mafia factory chicken, take the following precautions:
  1. E.coli will readily stick to most surfaces, becoming more and more stuck over time, as the biofilm develops.  Any organic materials (eg. blood, chicken juice, etc.) will cover and protect E.coli, forming a biofilm that keeps the E.coli safe from UV radiation, oxygen, bleach, and other antiseptics.  E.coli generally cannot be fully washed off.  The majority of the E.coli must be removed by washing and brushing away the biofilm, then the remaining E.coli must be killed by a suitable antiseptic and sufficient contact time.  Therefore preventing contamination is far easier than removing contamination.
  2. All grocery stores or butcher shops that sell chicken should be considered biohazardous zones, and need to be treated as such, using universal precautions such as regularly sanitizing all surfaces, using disposable food handling gloves or plastic bags to avoid directly touching packages of chicken.
  3. Bag your hands before you touch packages of chicken.  Bag the chicken over top of the meat counter, not your cart & other food purchases.  Place the bagged chicken into a carry bag reserved exclusively for chicken.
  4. Assume other shoppers have not taken the same biohazard precautions.  Assume all surfaces inside a grocery store have been contaminated with pathogenic chicken juice; especially all surfaces near the chicken meat counters.
  5. Do not allow small children, elders, or people with weak immune systems to touch raw chicken, or surfaces contaminated by raw chicken.

  6. Clear all clutter from kitchen counters, reducing the cleaning job.  All foods that are eaten raw or cooked to less than 70 deg C must be placed under cover, or more than 10 ft. radius distance from where the raw chicken will be handled.
  7. DO NOT wash raw chicken, as the washing creates clouds of contaminated microdrops that spread up to 10 ft. from the wash zone.
  8. Store raw chicken in a spill proof container with a lid, placing it as low in the fridge as possible. Place a clean paper towel under the dish of raw chicken so that inadvertent spills or drips can be readily detected, then sanitized before any cross-contamination spreads.
  9. To cook your chicken, move the open garbage can next to where the cooking pot is located.  Place the unopened package of chicken inside the pot/pan that the chicken will be cooked in.  Open the package, carefully slide the raw chicken into the pot, then place the packaging into the garbage.  Sanitize your hands, utensils used, and all surfaces within 10 ft. (fallout area for microdrops from the opening of the chicken).
  10. Assume your hands are contaminated with chicken Superbugs at all times.  Wash your hands before touching anybody's ears, ears, nose, mouth, or genitals. When you need to go to the bathroom, wash you hands to remove those potential Superbugs, urinate and/or defecate, then wash your hands again so as to remove any contamination picked up from touching your private parts.
  11. Wash your hands before going to bed, and as soon as you wake up in the morning (who knows what you touched or scratched while you were sleeping).

Chicken Mafia &/or Governmental Action

The experts have recommended taking actions to prevent E.coli and their Superbug variants from contaminating our homes and grocery stores.

Does the Chicken Mafia agree this is a problem, or will they continue to delay, deny, distract, defend, destroy, deride, and deflect; rather than make the necessary changes to their dysfunctional systems?

Will the government use the Precautionary Principle, or will they wait until the paid lobbyists and pseudo-experts (ie. paid distractors and delayers) of the Chicken Mafia have delayed the inevitable for a few more decades?

Don't hold your breath waiting for the government &/or the Chicken Mafia to respond.

Lack of oxygen will kill you faster than a Chicken Superbug UTI.

It's all relative, I guess.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Is "Humane Certified" Really Humane?

Foster Farms is the most
recent accused for chicken
abuse by the Chicken Mafia
The public is getting more and more enraged by clear violations of humane treatment and reasonable animal welfare for farm animals, including chickens. This time it was Foster Farms, a member of the US Chicken Mafia.  The Chicken Mafia can and should be preventing these incidents from occurring, then promptly responding to these incidents when their prevention efforts were insufficient.  Instead, the Chicken Mafia, whether in the US or Canada, prefer to delay, deny, distract, defend, destroy, deride, and deflect; rather than make the necessary changes to their dysfunctional systems.

Mercy for Animals enlisted Bob Barker, the former "Price Is Right" host, TV personality, and animal rights advocate for more than 30 years, to host and narrate this shocking video.

If the above video is reliable evidence, something in this commercial chicken system is broken, and needs to be fixed.

The above video is alleged to have been shot in California USA, at Foster Farms poultry slaughterhouse in Fresno, and their three poultry farms in Fresno County.  Once the undercover video was published, Foster Farms suspended 5 employees, and are doing re-training for the other employees in the areas investigated. The allegations received an immediate knee jerk reaction by the management of Foster Farms, blaming their employees.  Foster Farms response to the video is here.

Foster Farms says that every employee has animal welfare training every year.  If that's true, how do we explain the actions shown in the video?  Does management give mere lip service in this training (ie. rolling their eyes, cracking jokes, turning it into a farce)?  On the other hand, is every employee required to do a comprehensive comprehension test at the end of the training, to prove that they were paying attention, and fully understood?  Using dummy chickens, can each employee demonstrate what they understand to be acceptable animal treatment at their work station, and what is unacceptable (and might lead to them being fired)?

In spite of Foster Farms putting 100% of the blame onto the employees in their press release, does the management of Foster Farms have any blood on their hands?

I have posted previously that all management, whether on chicken farms or aerospace manufacturing, have the following duties owed to each and every one of their employees:

Duties that Managers Owe to All Employees

  1. Ensure each employee knows exactly what is expected from them;
  2. Provide each employee with all the necessary resources to readily achieve what is expected (eg. money, training, equipment, data, feedback, recognition, dignity, respect, supervision, tools, etc.).
  3. Ensure each employee can (and does) measure and understand the difference between what is expected and what actually occurred.
  4. Ensure that all employees take prompt corrective action to close the gap(s) between what is expected & what actually occurred.
  5. Ensure that risks and non-conformances are promptly identified, and actions are taken to prevent their occurrence (or re-occurrence).
To run an organization without these 5 managerial duties, is to abdicate management's responsibilities.  For example, if the driver of a vehicle suddenly decided to close their eyes and let go of the steering wheel of their moving vehicle while driving on a busy street, should society hold that driver responsible for the subsequent carnage?  Without these 5 duties, the management has similarly let go of the corporate steering wheel and closed their eyes, and subjected all those nearby to the gruesome consequences.

Did the management of Foster Farms do any of those 5 steps?  If they didn't do all 5 steps in a comprehensive and effective manner, then the blame for the animal abuse sits on the shoulders of both Foster's management and the employees who actually did the abuse.

One news report on this scandal raised the issue of the poor working conditions suffered by the employees working at Foster Farms.  If the employees feel abused in their jobs at the hands of Foster management, some employees may lash out at the animals they are forced to process at break neck speeds.  As a hands-on employee on the chicken processing line, how do you keep your empathy and sanity in spite of the thousands of animals you send to their death every day, and avoid becoming desensitized to the animals' welfare?

In the video, Bob Barker (and/or Mercy of Animals) also blame the American Humane Association ("AHA") for enabling this abuse by falsely certifying Foster Farms and their chicken processes as "humane".

The Chicken Mafia is rich.  Foster Farms is one of the biggest chicken producers in the US, with 10,000-employees, operations in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Arkansas and Alabama, a comprehensive line of products that's sold globally, with over 100 producers on more than 7,000 farms. Foster Farms says they employ two full-time avian veterinarians and a poultry nutritionist.  Where were these professionals when these abuses were ongoing? Did these professionals know about, suspect, or turned a blind eye to this abuse? I believe any corporation that big should have known better, and taken better care to prevent these issues from occurring.

The American Humane Association ("AHA") has an ongoing need for $12.8 million per year in funding their charity.  Can the Chicken Mafia purchase and use the good name of AHA Certified Humane as a smoke screen?  AHA says:
"Since 1877 the historic American Humane Association has been at the forefront of every major advance in protecting children, pets and farm animals from abuse and neglect."
AHA doesn't own nor operate any animal welfare shelters.  AHA has drafted a document of best practices and minimal accepted standards to which about 300 animal shelters have voluntarily endorsed, follow, and pay AHA to audit their compliance.  AHA also has the exclusive contract to ensure that animals are well treated in all Hollywood movies and similar artistic productions.

There are others who also certify animal welfare excellence.  For example, Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), this label has the most stringent guidelines. It is only issued to meat that comes from independent family farms.

Humane Farm Animal Care has Certified Humane, which USA Today called the "Gold Standard" for animal welfare.

According to Charity Navigation, AHA has recently suffered a 16.3% drop in funding to its charitable programs for animal welfare.

PetSmart Charities (a recent spin off of the US for-profit pet store chain that has a similar purpose to AHA) has a 22.9% better charity effectiveness score that AHA, and a $51 Million per year budget; almost 4 times bigger than AHA.  Obviously, older isn't necessarily better.

Does this loss of market share and exclusivity explain why AHA supported Foster Farms and the Chicken Mafia in their time of need, so as to obtain some quick cash for the AHA?

To become AHA certified for animal welfare, AHA requires an application, payment of a fee to AHA, an on-site audit by a certified ISO auditor who also has animal species-specific expertise, a review and approval of the audit results, employee training, and annual re-certification.  Sounds pretty good to me.  But is it effective, or a smoke screen?

The AHA standard for broiler chickens is 136 pages in length.  I haven't read the entire document, but I skimmed through it, as well as fully read and analyzed a few key sections.  There are a few typos, a few unclear sentences here and there, but for the most part, it seems to be a good standard to help ensure animal welfare.

Red Rover says that AHA's certification system is not as thorough as the other two major animal welfare certification bodies.  Is that why Foster Farms chose AHA's system?  Perhaps Foster Farms couldn't be bothered, or couldn't achieve compliance to the higher standards?

Whatever the answer, it seems to me that if a farm or chicken processing plant was fully compliant to the spirit and letter of AHA's standard, most people would find it acceptable.  The Mercy for Animals video shown above is clearly in violation of all three standards for animal welfare.

Therefore we are left to question the AHA auditors that were sent to Foster Farms, the auditing process, and compliance by Foster Farms' employees to the defined animal welfare standard.

During AHA's audits, do the auditors seek objective evidence that Foster Farms' management has consistently and effectively implemented all 5 steps listed above?

Paper documents, by themselves, don't keep animals safe and well cared for.  Many ISO-based quality management systems are bureaucratic, bloated, and ineffective; in spite of gold stars on their audit reports.  I know, as I spent 27 years as a certified ISO auditor.

Management must be engaged, and vigilant to ensure they build a culture that believes, supports, and practices the applicable standards every hour of every day.  Does Foster meet that criteria?  If they did, they would have been aware (or suspected) the potential for abuse portrayed in the video, and stopped it from occurring (or re-occurring) long before the Mercy for Animals undercover operative arrived with their video camera.

It takes time, skill, and significant effort to do a comprehensive audit, looking for evidence of what occurs when the auditor is there, as well as what happens between audits.  Are the auditors given sufficient time?  Are auditors encouraged and supported to dig deep and have the confidence to report fully and honestly, in spite of cajoling and attempts at manipulation of audit results by the employees and management?

Are verification and validation audits done by outside auditors (separate from both the company being audited, and AHA as well)?  This could be used to see if AHA auditors are doing full and comprehensive audits with consistent and repeatable results.

Hopefully, in time, we we learn the full details, and will be reassured how both Foster and the AHA certification process will both be improved.

Could we expect the same or similar results if Mercy for Animals did more undercover work in a factory farm and/or processing plant inside Canada?  Unfortunately, based on my research on the Chicken Mafia in Canada, I'm sad to say it's likely as bad or worse in Canada as what Foster Farms got caught doing in the USA.

What are the opinions of CFC, CFO, and all the other provincial Chicken Boards about the incidents described in the video?  It is a long standing legal precedent that silence should be interpreted as acceptance.  Who will ask each and every one of these Canadian Chicken Boards, as well as the provincial and Federal supervising commissions what they have done (or will start doing) so that similar animal abuse in Canada's system will be prevented, and/or detected and remedial actions taken to prevent re-occurrence?

Today, I sent a link to this posting for both Foster Farms and the AHA, requesting their comments.  If I receive anything (which I doubt), I will post it so the world can clearly know their positions on the issues raised in this Blog posting.

Small Flock Poultry Farmers of Canada ("SFPFC")  has clearly defined its expectations for animal welfare.  See Clauses 2 and 3 of SFPFC's Principles.  Why hasn't the Chicken Mafia been able to do similarly?

Unfortunately, the Chicken Mafia gives all chicken farmers and chicken processors a bad name, even Small Flockers.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Chicken Mafia Powers

The Chicken Mafia has all the illicit power, all the improper rights, and the devious support of all levels of government.  The Chicken Mafia uses those powers to oppress Small Flock Farmers, and hurt all Canadian consumers.  For some strange reason, there is a conspiracy of silence throughout Canada on these illicit powers and their improper use.

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” 

Frederick Douglass (1818 - 1895), African-American social reformer, abolitionist orator, writer, and statesman, from his speech “West India Emancipation” at Canandaigua, New York, on August 3, 1857; the twenty-third anniversary of the event.

We will never solve this injustice by patiently awaiting the self-realization of the Chicken Mafia as to the error of their ways.  For example, small flock poultry farmers in Ontario are restricted to growing just 300 chickens per year for meat; enough to feed chicken to 7 people for a year.

A tip of the hat to Murray Stenton, a graphic designer/cartoonist  from Halifax Nova Scotia.  Well done cartoon.  Thanks! 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Organic Chicken Fraud

CFIA is investigating allegations that lower quality chicken was being fraudulently packaged and labeled as antibiotic free, animal by-products free ("AABF"), organic chicken by Cericola Farms Inc.

The story details can be read here and here.

While Vashti Dalipsingh was the Director of Operations at Cericola Farms Inc., during more than five month period she alleges that she was repeatedly ordered to package normal broiler chickens as the premium grade antibiotic free, animal by-products free ("AABF") organic chicken; usually when they ran out of organic chicken.  Dalipsingh says she dug into Cericola's records and realized the fraudulent practice had been going on for eight months before she was fired in April (placing the start date at Sept 2014).  She claims that up to 10,000 kg./wk. of conventional meat was intentionally labelled organic to keep up with demand by Cericola's customers.

Running out of organic chicken prior to filling the entire quantity ordered by national chain customers (eg. Loblaws, Sobeys, Costco, etc.) is a dangerous occurrence that is not tolerated by these huge customers.

Cericola claims to be the 2nd largest supplier or organic chicken, and to have been supplying "organic" chicken for 56 years (ie. since 1959).  The world's first recorded use of "organic" in the sense of "free from pesticides and fertilizers" was attested in 1942; 17 years before Cericola's first use.

The products, which include Blue Goose Organic and Blue Goose AABF, ended up on shelves at Sobeys, Loblaws and Costco in Greater Toronto and in the Moncton, N.B. area, Dalipsingh’s legal team said.

Of course, Cericola Farms insists that all is well, their chicken is fantastic, and there is no basis for the allegations made against them.  Did you expect them to say anything different?  Cericola Farms said Dalipsingh's allegations "are frivolous and vexatious, and we intend to vigorously defend our company in court".

Blue Goose, one of the organic chicken brands wounded by these allegations against Cericola has said that they are standing by Cericola, as is Loblaws.  Loblaws was also reported to have said they would "act quickly" if the allegations are proven.  On Monday June 15th 2015 I spoke to the Store Manager of a Loblaws who told me that he had received a recall notice from his head office for a number of SKU's of Blue Goose, but he had none of the recalled SKU's on the store shelves.

If CFIA does their job, they can readily find other employees who witnessed or participated in the fraud, if it occurred.  Whether these other witnesses come forward will likely depend on how much fear Cericola is able to raise in the employee's minds.  If people think that whistleblowing will cost them their job, or perhaps everybody's job if the plant is caused to be shut down, they will likely keep quiet.

Forensic auditing can easily determine if more organic chicken was shipped out of Cericola's plant than what was grown.  Farms are required to keep records for at least 12 months to 7 years, depending on the type of record.  Inventory records are kept on the stock of organic chicken in the process and the storage coolers.  In a day to a week of detective work, the truth can be outed.  How hard will CFIA investigate?

CFIA may choose to telephone Cericola's President, where the following conversation might occur:

CFIA:   "Did you do that alleged organic chicken fraud?".
Cericola's President:   "NO!"

CFIA:    "That's good enough for me.  Sorry to bother you.  This case is closed."

CFIA wraps up another investigation in record time.  While CFIA may not be effective, they certainly are quick to start, and quick to finish.

In time, we will see what CFIA actually decides to do.

The other possibility is the unjust dismissal lawsuit.  While civil suits require full disclosure of info by each party, I'm not so naive to think this always happens as it should.

If it's like the Egg Mafia who were caught shipping known defective eggs by CFIA, there will be a giant purge of computer records, and mountains of shredded papers.  Of course, that wasn't criminal conspiracy to hamper a police investigation, it was just Spring Cleaning.

Canada's Supply Management System for chicken ensures that these multi-millionaire chicken farmers are the highest paid farmers in Canada, according to Stats Canada.

Importers of chicken are forced to pay tariffs as high as 285% so as to protect chicken farmers and producers.  Consumers pay 50% to 300% more for chicken than the rest of the world.  In spite of this, there are ongoing allegations, time and again, of fraud, corruption, abuse, and cheating within the system (eg. spent hens, fraudulent FCR's, contaminated chicken, chicken exports, IREP chicken, animal cruelty, and many more.)

Just how much further along this terrible path will we be forced to march?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Bird Flu Bailout

Bird Flu is expensive.  Who gets stuck with the bill for all of that biosecurity misfortune (or negligence)?

I previously outlined the significant questions that exist on Bird Flu and the Chicken Mafia's response.  Consumers eventually, and ultimately, get stuck with the bill for the negligence of chicken factory farmers.

How much will it cost consumers?

Nobody knows for sure.  Agri007 reported:
"United States Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said this week that the virus is going to cost the federal treasury $410 and said the costs  could mount to $500 million."
Half a Billion dollars isn't a bad start.  Of course, that's just the government's share for the condemned birds ordered to be destroyed.  The total cost is much larger.  There are costs to dispose of the dead carcasses, to clean the barns and sanitize them, the losses from business interruption.

There will also be raising of prices as a market shortage of chicken and eggs spreads, and much more.  For example Agri007 reports
"The U.S. price for eggs for processing has risen from 65 cents to $2.35 a dozen in the last five weeks."
That's a  361% price increase.  Ouch!

Let's assume that the total cost in the US will be $1 Billion.  Since they are 16 times bigger than the Canadian system, the cost for Canada is roughly $62.5 Million for 2015.

So how do Canadian consumers get stuck with the bill?

First of all, where does the government get their money to pay compensation for biosecurity negligence by SM farmers?  Of course, all of it comes from taxes paid by taxpayers.

Next, the Chicken Mafia has covered their bets by forming Poultry Insurance Exchange Reciprocal of Canada ("PIERC") in 2008 or there abouts.  This is a reciprocal insurance company that provides insurance benefits to the Chicken Mafia when they get hit with catastrophic losses from Salmonella and/or Bird Flu.  In Jan. 2010,  BF reported that PIERC planned to expand their coverage to Avian Influenza around Mar. 2010.

The current situation of this insurance and PIERC is hard to determine.  PIERC seems to have been registered as a corporation doing business in most or all provinces across Canada, but appears to have let lapse (ie. surrender) their business registration and/or licensing to offer insurance in Alberta in 2011, Nova Scotia in 2011, and has been refused a license to sell reciprocal insurance in Quebec as of July 2013, and become quite pissed off about that fact.

PIERC is off the books and running in stealth mode for the Chicken Mafia, where secrecy is king.

So we don't really know for sure, but here is some speculation sprinkled with some assumptions.

Each provincial Board has (or will) mandate each CAFO chicken factory farmer to comply with the Board's  biosecurity standards (as poor and superficial as those standards may be), and in return have mandatory coverage by the insurance policy issued by PIERC to that Board on behalf of each chicken farmer.

Why make it mandatory to have insurance?  The Chicken Mafia says it is made mandatory so as to ensure rapid recovery if disaster strikes.  In reality, insurers like this mandatory coverage, and insist upon it (just as they did for car insurance in Canada, and US Health insurance under Obamacare) so that profits are maximized, the insured pool is maximized, and risk is allegedly spread over a larger base so that the Law of Large Numbers applies (ie. fewer anomalies).  What really happens is that the negligent hide better in a larger forest, escaping easy detection, maximizing Moral Hazard.

Farmers pay a higher levy fee to their Board for every chicken or egg raised, to pay the insurance premium to PIERC.  That insurance premium becomes a cost of doing business for the farm, and is therefore used to calculate overhead costs that get added to the "reasonable" costs that get charged for farm gate commodity pricing.  That higher farm gate price gets marked up at each step along the way as the chicken flows through the Chicken Mafia system towards consumers.  In the end, everybody along the supply chain makes a little more profit due to the insurance premium paid on behalf of the farmers, so consumers end up paying many times the cost of the insurance policy cost.

When biosecurity disaster strikes, as it has in 2015, the negligent (or unlucky?) farmer submits a claim to CFIA and PIERC and gets fully compensated for their negligence (or very close to full compensation).

Insurance, especially insurance that has full compensation (or close thereto), has significant "Moral Hazard", where the guilty will reap the benefits of their negligent acts (ie. less work, saving a few pennies in labour and materials by skipping necessary repairs and improvements, etc.), and are shielded from the consequences of their negligent acts.

PIERC likely purchases re-insurance from other insurance companies.  That means when PIERC has a claim (as they do in 2015), other insurance companies have to pay for some of those losses.  Those other insurance companies see their expected profits disappear and their costs rise from Bird Flu claims, so they have to boost all of their premiums charged to consumers for car insurance, fire insurance, home insurance, E&O professional insurance, etc..  Again, consumers get dinged for Chicken Mafia negligence.

If Chicken Mafia's loses for 2015 are too big in BC and Ontario, PIERC will likely send a bigger premium bill for the following year to all Chicken Mafia Boards all across Canada who are a part of PIERC.  So even if one province has an excellent and competent Chicken Board and diligent farmers who have excellent biosecurity protocols, consumers in that province will be forced to pay their "fair share" of the negligent cost of doing business in the offending provinces.

If the Bird Flu losses are still not yet paid, the Subscription Agreement signed by each Provincial Board likely says that PIERC can make them to ante-up to cover all of the additional losses.  Again, those costs get sent to consumers.

There is no winning for consumers in this biohazardous deal.

What should happen to save the consumer from these Moral Hazards is:
  1. Independent, third party risk management experts should regularly assess the biosecurity standards of each province based on accepted risk management techniques such as HACCP, FMEA, FTA, 8D, 5Y and similar techniques.
  2. Independent, third party auditors should regularly assess each farm for compliance to their province's biohazard standard, and assign a RPN (Risk Priority Number) based on maximum probable loss, probability of an incident, severity of the incident, and prior detectability of the precursors of that incident.  The premium to be paid by each farmer will be based on a sliding scale for that RPN score, and the farm's actual loss record.
  3. The amount of insurance is limited to 66% to 90% of the total cost, with the use of co-insurance, deductibles, and similar techniques so that the negligent farmers get a significant financial penalty for causing or contributing to an incident occurring.
  4. The insurance premium is disallowed from consideration as an operating costs used to determine the farm gate price.  This ensures there is no indirect feed back mechanism to consumers.  If the farmer can lower his insurance premium by biosecurity improvements, he gets to keep all of the savings he deserves.  If not, the premium is money out of the farmer's pocket with no compensation from consumers.
Until this is done, Bird Flu and other biohazardous incidents will likely continue, and consumers will continue to be raped by any negligence and/or corruption caused by the Chicken Mafia inside Canada's dysfunctional Supply Management system.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Empathy or Hypocrisy ?

It is the best of times.  It is the worst of times.  The point of view for CAFO Chicken Farmers depends on whether you are North, or South, of the Canadian-USA border.  Does Canada's Chicken Mafia have any empathy for their US counterparts, or just callous indifference, or perhaps hypocrisy?

When Charles Dickens wrote "It is the best of times.  It is the worst of times." in A Tale of Two Cities, he was speaking about Paris France and London England during the French Revolution.  Today, we are at a similar crisis in chickens on both sides of the US-Canadian border.

Both Canada and the USA started with virtually the same systems for chicken, small independent farms run by a family.  CAFO chicken farms for meat only began in the 1940's.  Both of those systems have spiraled out of control to form two different systems of oppression and tyranny.  The main difference in these two dysfunctional systems is the identity of the victim.  In the US, the victim is the chicken farmer.  In Canada, the victims are the consumers and the small flock farmers.

These two dysfunctional systems of chicken meat production use similar technologies (eg. hatcheries, breeds, feed, barns, medicines, etc.).  These two national and proximate systems for chicken also share similar types of tyranny, oppression, and abuse inflicted on the weak by the hands of rich, omnipotent corporations and individuals.

In the USA around the 1950, 95% of U.S. broiler production was by independent farmers. Just 10 years later, 90 percent of the US industry was under contracts for national or state-wide "integrators". Today in the USA, the Integrators run the show (eg. Pilgrim's, Tyson, Sanderson Farms, Perdue, etc.).  In the US, 97% of US chickens raised in 2001 are done under contract farming.  Any remaining chickens are raised on farms owned and operated by the processors, or by smaller independents providing chicken to local markets.

In Canada, the rich and powerful Local Boards of the Chicken Supply Management System (ie. the Chicken Mafia) who run the show (eg. Chicken Farmers of Ontario, and their counterpart in each of the 10 Provinces).

Do the Canadian Chicken Mafia realize how good they have it with the government's gift of monopoly?  Are the multi-millionaire Canadian Chicken Farmers aware of the plight of the poor, indebted, and abused US chicken farmers?  Do the Canadian CAFO chicken farmers have any empathy for the plight suffered by their US counterparts?

The situation for US chicken farmers has gotten so bad, John Oliver, a comedian who does a weekly comedy show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on news and current affairs has taken up their cause by his satirical look at the  bad situation, titled Chickens.

John Oliver shows clips from a number of documentaries:

and to which we add:
I sympathize with the plight with the plight of the US chicken farmer.  Being an oppressed and victimized small flock farmer in Canada helps you to see and feel for the plight of the US chicken farmer.  It appears to me that Big Ag. uses their powers and market might to take advantage of these US  farmers, to oppress them for more Big. Ag. corporate profits.

The Big Question

So where do Canadian chicken farmers stand on the plight of their American brothers?

Does CFO, CFC, or any of the other provincial bodies take a stand, and speak out on behalf of their US peers?  I haven't heard a peep out of them on this important issue.  I wonder why?

If any of you are aware of any Canadian chicken farmer or organization who has directly supported or aided US chicken farmer(s) in either word or deed, please post the details below so we can correct the record.  If there are no comments to the contrary, it seems reasonable to assume that none exist until proven otherwise.

Mark Twain write about the "silent lie" or lie of omission, and how it ensured the continuation of slavery in the US for almost 100 years.  Is that similar silent lie at work by Canadian chicken farmers, against the US chicken farmers?

Is it because the Canadian chicken farmers are callously indifferent to the terrible conditions their US counterparts suffer through each day?  Perhaps the Canadian farmers are too busy counting their money.

Perhaps the Canadian chicken farmers, their trade associations (CFO, CFC and the others) are too busy plotting their next scheme to make even more money off the backs of Canadians.

Perhaps some are narcissistic psychopaths who only care about themselves, and enjoy watching the suffering of others.

The Plight of Canadian Consumers & Small Flockers

If the Chicken Mafia cannot bother speaking out or supporting their American peers, is their any hope in appealing to their sense of fair play, or empathy for the plight of Canadian consumers or Small Flockers?

I think not.

Any empathy that the Chicken Mafia show towards the US chicken farmers would expose their hypocrisy to the suffering they directly inflict on Canadian consumers and Small Flockers.

The Chicken Supply Management System will therefore require changes imposed upon the Chicken Mafia, likely requiring riding rough shod over the dead, cold, rotting corpse of the Canadian Supply Management System.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Last Post (or close thereto)

This will be one of our last postings to this Blog, or close thereto.

This video commemorates the last post (or close thereto) for the Blog of Small Flock Poultry Farmers of Canada ("SFPFC").

The yellow dots show the location of readers who came
to this Blog seeking truth, more than 147,000 visits from
more than 152 countries. Fortunately, Canada and Canadians
had 84% of the total pageviews.
This is our 402nd posting since starting this Blog of Feb. 28, 2013 more than 2 years ago.

The yellow dots in the world map to the right show the location of readers who came to this Blog seeking truth, more than 147,000 visits from more than 152 countries. Fortunately, Canada and Canadians had 84% of the total pageviews.

Our thanks to all those who came at least once, and especially to our loyal "Blog Dogs".

SFPFC advocates for the rights and freedoms of small flock farmers in Canada.  SFPFC helps small flock farmers to provide safe, nutritious, affordable, and locally grown food for all Canadians.

Currently, a select few millionaire farmers have over 99% market share for Supply Management food commodities in Canada (dairy, chicken, turkey, and eggs).

Those CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or "Factory Farms") farms and farmers use their government created monopoly to price gouge all Canadians, charging 50% to 300% more than what the rest of the world pays for these essential foods.

SFPFC believes that if any monopoly is created or allowed to continue, it must be operated so that it's in the best interest of all Canadians, not just the 2,700 minority, but chosen few members of Canada's Chicken Mafia who dream of moving from millionaire to billionaire.

The Chicken Mafia use their monopoly to oppress and bully Small Flock farmers, strip them of their rights, and prevent them from growing the food needed by their families, neighbours and communities.

The Chicken Mafia use their monopoly to deliver poor quality, unsafe, or inferior chicken to their trapped customers.

I believe this Blog has informed and delighted most who came here.  Some, mainly the Chicken Mafia, government bureaucrats, and their henchmen, have been frustrated and very upset by this Blog.  They have suffered through one blow after the next as this Blog de-constructed and carefully examined and analyzed their corrupt and dysfunction system of Chicken Supply Management.  If they have mis-read or mis-interpreted this posting, they may incorrectly assume that they have won, their embarrassing exposure to the light of day is coming to an end.  Nothing can be further from the truth.

In our Feb. 28, 2013 Blog posting Campaign Strategy, I explained how we needed 23 doublings so that SFPFC's plight comes to the attention of 8.4 million people in Ontario.  Will 147,000 views so far, we have had more than 17 doublings.  Significant and worthwhile, as we are are 74% towards our goal, but we still need 6 more doublings.

To speed that doubling process even more, we need to shift tactics, and put our campaign vehicle in high gear.
Charles Boycott (1832 - 1897),
a Land Agent acting as the
henchman of an Absentee
Landlord, Lord Erne

First a little history so you can better understand what's coming.

Charles Boycott and Unfair Treatment of Irish Farmers

Irish tenant farmers were on starvation wages with no hope of escape for hundreds of years. When the Irish Potato Famine struck (1845 - 1852), approximately 1 million people died in Ireland, and a million more emigrated away from Ireland and the famine, causing the island's population to fall by between 20% and 25%.  Most countries in Europe suffered from potato crop failures in those years, but the policies of the English government and many decades of prior neglect turned Ireland's crop failure into a famine; far worse than any other country.

With a 25% drop in the Irish population, there was a shortage of peasant workers; first time since the Black Death.  Absentee landlords needed their tenant farmers more than ever before.  The relative power had shifted from the landlords to the tenants, giving the tenant farmers some additional negotiating power to improve their lot in life, and reduce their oppression and chronic abuse by the system.

Captain Charles Boycott was an English soldier posted in Ireland, who subsequently retired and was hired by an Absentee Landlord, Lord Erne. From previous hard times running his own farm, Boycott had become set in his mode of thought such that he had "strengthened his innate belief in the divine right of the masters, and the tendency to behave as he saw fit, without regard to other people's point of view or feelings".
In 1880, there was another poor crop in Ireland.  Boycott offered the tenant farmers a 10% reduction in their rents to assist their hardship.  The tenant farmers countered with a request for a 25% reduction.  Boycott refused, and the tenant farmers were evicted.  In solidarity for the evicted tenant farmers, everybody in the community banded together (or were coerced to do so) to shun Boycott, refusing to trade with Boycott, refused to talk to him, local businessmen stopped trading with him, and the local postman refused to deliver mail.  Boycott was never threatened, but mob discipline was in place to ensure the boycotting was maintained.

Boycott wrote a letter to The Times newspaper in Oct. 1880, to garner outside support for his difficulties.  Soon the new word "boycotting" was added to the English language all over the world.
The newspapers, landowners, and upper classes supported Boycott in his time of need.  Manpower to work Lord Erne's lands was eventually imported, with over 1,000 policemen to guard and protect the scab labor.  The harvesting of the crops cost at least £10,000 to harvest about £500 worth of crops.
In support of Boycott, as a test case of what could happen to other landowners, England subsequently passed many new draconian laws to prevent these similar types of tenant labor actions.  Backlash from those draconian laws subsequently lead to the formation of the Labor Party in England.

Boycott was severely damaged financially by the controversy, and finally left Ireland in Dec. 1880, but the controversy followed him for the rest of his life, everywhere he went.

What Comes Next

My condolences to the Chicken Mafia, but the public examination of SM's dyfunctional systems is not yet done.  Steel yourself, as everybody in Canada begins to more fully understand what you and your Supply Management system has been doing to innocent Canadians.

You may notice people looking at you in a funny way when you fill up with gas, or other encounters with members of your community; a slight but noticeable edge to the conversation.  If your position of respect in your community becomes somewhat tarnished, you'll know why.  While you and your family may be good people, people may judge you for the company you have been keeping; the dysfunctional and abusive Supply Management System.

Of course, you can circle the wagons and focus all of your efforts and social interactions with your family and other SM farmers; further isolating you, even more than today.  If your current friends and business associates are quick to judge you for your ties to the SM Mafia; the hell with them!

You, as a member of the Chicken Mafia, profit from the ill got gains coming from Supply Management.  While you didn't do it directly, you acquiesced and permitted it to occur and continue. Most Canadians will soon come to realize why you have a very comfortable lifestyle; perhaps similar to what Boycott felt 135 years ago.

Now that SFPFC's research on Canada's Chicken Supply Management ("SM") system has been completed more or less, we move to a different phase of our campaign to obtain freedom from this SM Tyranny.

Today, we announce the launch of our publicity, communication, education, and awareness building phase of our campaign.  This is where we make full use of all the research described in this Blog.

Today, we shift our primary focus from collecting fact, to communicating those facts.

Come learn, then choose if you will support our just cause.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Heritage Breeds, or Russian Roulette with Genetics

We have heard about conserving our genetic diversity in the wild, trying to undo the threatened extinction of thousands of species.  The same concept applies equally well to farms, livestock, and loss of heritage breeds, chickens included.

In Canada, only 7 people have self-identified as committed to sustaining 1 or more heritage breeds for fowl or poultry.

The Livestock Conservancy has created a map of their registry.  There are just 10 in Canada for all breeds of animal.  Some are with horses, pigs, sheep, goats, turkey, ducks, and chickens.

Of course, these are a few small farms with very limited resources (ie. knowledge, money, and hours in the day).  There are thousands of breeds in each of these species, far more than what a few individuals can focus on and sustain.

While there are similar individuals around the world, I suggest and fear that that dedicated effort will not be sufficient to stop or slow the commercialization of a few hybrids that are most profitable, and the extinction of all the rest.

Starting with the Chicken of Tomorrow contest in the late 1940's, we have accelerated the pace of chicken hybridization.  Before that, there was a huge amount of diversity in the genetic pool.  Commercialization has led to monopolization of the genetic stock.  Make a small tweak to any bread, and you now "own" that genetic material.

David Bollier blogged:
"This trend got its start in 1980 when the U.S. Supreme Court first allowed the patenting of lifeforms in the Chakrabarty case, which allowed the patenting of microorganisms.  That in turn opened the floodgates to the patenting of genes, plants, bioengineered crops, and much else.  Harvard University famously owns the patent of a specially bred mouse for cancer experiments, the “onco-mouse.”  There is much to be said for the fruits of biotech research, but there is also much to be lamented and condemned as far as the needless privatization of knowledge and stifling of competition and innovation."
In Dec. 2002, Canada's Supreme Court ruled against the patenting of higher life forms. The test case was Harvard University’s 17-year quest for ownership of its genetically engineered "oncomouse".  Biotech plants, microorganisms, and seeds can be patented, but not higher life forms like mice or people.

How does this apply to chickens?  A 2008 study estimated that commercial broiler chickens are already missing about 50% of the genetic diversity contained in all historic breeds of chicken.  It is estimated that 90% of the improvement in chicken productivity came from selective breeding efforts (eg. kg of chicken meat per kg of feed consumed, or kg of chicken meat per week of growth, etc.).  The proprietary commercial breeds of today have rapid growth and extra meat (especially breast meat), but this has also included infertility, obesity, cardiovasular disease, lameness, ascites (abdominal fluid retention), sedentary lifestyles preferences, skeletal abnormalities, male-female aggression, irregular ovulation, .  Pushing genetic selection far past the optimum so as to maximize Big Ag profits, we have many drawbacks.

Disappearance of the heritage breeds, either now or in the near future, means that those genetics of maximum profit becomes a 1-way street, with no possible exit.

We have inadvertently (or negligently) stumbled down these 1-way genetic breeding and hybridization streets before.  For example:
  • Bovine leukocyte adhesion deficiency (BLAD, an autosomal recessive hereditary disease) in Holstein cattle was caused by one popular breeding bull, Osborndale Ivanhoe, that had his artificial insemination ("AI") semen sold far and wide, siring over 100,000 animals.  His semen is $4,250 a shot, and enough semen was collected for about 200,000 shots, so we have one bull's AI potential worth $850 million.  Do you see the source of this 1-way genetic road to hell?  Much later, it was discovered that this one bull had a genetic defect; BLAD.  This fatal disease started in the 1950's, but the disease wasn't identified until 1992; 29 years after the death of that bull.  Too late then, as we were already at the end of that 1-way genetic road to nowhere.  Today, there is a genetic test for BLAD.  Based on current trends of identification and prevelence reduction for BLAD carriers in Canada, it will be eradicated by Year 2167 (152 years from now).  Genetic mistakes are BIG mistakes, and take a long time to eliminate.  This Year 2167 prediction is based upon a 4.9% BLAD Canadian herd prevalence in 1992, 1% BLAD prevalence in 2006, a 272,774 Canadian registered herd size in 2004, a 550,000 herd size in 2015, steady exponential growth in herd size and BLAD prevalence.

  • The 1970 corn leaf blight outbreak was due to the widespread use of the Texas male-sterile cytoplasm in corn hybridization.
  • One type (ie. cultivar) of banana has 47% of the world's total banana production, and has 99% of the world's banana export market; the Cavandish banana cultivar.  The millions of Cavandish banana trees of today come from cuttings taken from just one mutant banana tree, discovered sometime between 1500's and 1850's.  The world's Cavandish banana monoculture is now being decimated by a new fungus that threatens to wipe out every one of those cloned banana trees.  Note that Cavendish took off as the Big Banana in the 1950's when the previous dominate banana (Big Mike) suddenly died off from Panama Disease.  We never learn.
  • Commercial chickens are controlled by just four major breeding companies (three broiler breeders and one layer breeder), which together account for ≈90% of meat-type and ≈40% of egg-type chickens supplied commercially worldwide.  Fortunately the genome mapping of the chicken (broiler, layer, silkie, and red jungle chicken, the common ancestor) was completed in 2004.  A chicken genetics study have found that there is significant in-breeding, and a loss of 50% of the prior genetic diversity in chicken.  If these lines are crossed with each other, it would somewhat improve the diversity, but not by much.  This sad state of affairs places the entire chicken industry at great risk if future shocks, emerging diseases or outbreaks, different selection criteria emerge in the future, or market trends must be responded to with chicken genetics.  Only the small flocks on the world's non-commercial farms have the required diversity and genetic pool from which to draw.
Thoroughbred racehorses have refused to use AI techniques for these very reasons.  Humans have already done much horse inbreeding before AI arrived on the scene in the 1950's.  The further down those 1-way genetic roads you go, the canyon walls become higher, steeper, and with fewer and fewer handholds, making it virtually impossible to climb out.

There were always those who warned of these potential 1-way genetic street risks that cause loss of genetic diversity.  However, the profitability for those who lead the way, and the moral hazard relief for them (ie. private profits, but the risk and its financial consequences will fall on the general public, not those who gained the profits).

These significant benefits with no risk have enticed many to turn a deaf ear to those prophetic warnings, and they have blundered ahead, driven by greed and self interest, in spite of the risk.