Commercially raised chickens are developed in crowded places. As a result, infections and bacteria spread more readily among birds. Commercially raised chickens are more likely to carry salmonella, which causes illness in humans. Symptoms of salmonella poisoning are diarrhea and vomiting, with hospitalisation or even death occurring in severe cases.

Chickens are often kept in pens without light or access to the outdoors. Animal rights advocates call these practices cruel and unnecessary to the raising of healthy chickens. If you care about the way your chicken was treated before slaughter, this is a distinct disadvantage of commercial chicken farming. Commercially raised chickens are often fed antibiotics to prevent spread of disease in farms. Although the Food and Drug Administration requires a waiting period between administration of drugs and slaughter to help reduce the residue of drugs in a chicken’s system, it does not change the fact that drugs were administered. The antibiotics used are the same as used by humans. Farmers administer antibiotics to prevent disease rather than treat it, which can encourage development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Most of such chickens are injected with salt or monosodium glutamate solution during processing. This increases the sodium content of the meat and can cause health problems in sensitive individuals.

These solutions make chickens fat and preserve their pink colour.

Chickens are fed compounds that may be dangerous to human health, a study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives in April 2008 reports. Some companies have discontinued use of these compounds, but commercially raised chickens may still be eating feed that contains parts of slaughtered chickens, feces, plastics and an overabundance of grains. Poor quality feed could mean poor quality meat.

TARA ANJUM,

Lahore, June 2.