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Your Thanksgiving turkey may have had a drug problem


By Hanna Brooks Olsen for

According to the USDA, even conventional American-grown turkeys (like the kind you’ll probably see on your Thanksgiving table) are held to only the highest standards of health and quality. Baby turkeys, they say, roam freely, allowed to eat pounds of feed, comprised mostly of soy, corn, and a “supplement of vitamins and minerals.” They’re not given hormones–but they may, the USDA admits, be given antibiotics. And not for the reasons you think.

The volume of antibiotics given to turkeys is kind of astonishing—particularly because the reason behind the drugs is more than just killing bacteria that may cause foodborne illness (like the kind that led to a massive turkey recall earlier this year).  The real reason most farmers go all out on antibiotics? Because they basically offer a loophole on rules about turkey growing practices, which have outlawed the use of hormones–but not antibiotics.

According to an article on Alternet, turkeys are given high doses of antibiotic drugs to make them feed on that corn and soy stuff more efficiently, and basically get fatter with less feed. Which means your turkey probably wasn’t made plump by a healthy diet and plenty of exercise, but with drugs being used in place of banned hormones.

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