Selling Of 'Enhanced' Poultry Has Congress Crying Foul

US - Poultry producers, Congress members and regulators are tussling over the classic Shakespearean question: "What's in a name?"
calendar icon 2 November 2007
clock icon 2 minute read
100 percent natural chicken

Or to mangle Juliet's phrase, "That which we call 100 percent natural chicken - injected with up to 15 percent brine, broth and flavor - would taste as sweet."

While such "enhanced" poultry may be labeled as natural under current U.S. Department of Agriculture rules, a number of producers and politicians are crying foul. The agency held a public hearing on the issue in December; accepted reams of ensuring comments as well as petitions and letters from the industry and politicians; and still continues to weigh all the arguments.

The latest missive came in the form of a letter, signed last month by 40 legislators including California's Democratic senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced.

"When 40 members of Congress from nine states send a letter to the department of agriculture, they've got to pay attention," said Charles Hansen, a lobbyist working on behalf of the Truthful Labeling Coalition as well as the California Poultry Federation, who argue brine-injected chickens are anything but natural.

Jamie McInerney, Cardoza's press officer, said the USDA policy poses "an egregious problem in their labeling standards.

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