The survey was conducted by ORC International for NCC in September this year. In total, 1,011 US adults were polled.
And, in an effort to inform the public about the ins and outs of US chicken production, the NCC said it has launched a new website detailing current production methods and feed ingredients. It also includes insights from broiler farmers, said Tom Super, NCC spokesperson.
“We’ve heard everything from we feed the chickens caffeine to stay up and eat [more], and then Prozac to make them sleep,” he told us. “And the general perception is, you’re putting hormones in the feed and water, or crunching up pills to drop on the barn floor for chickens to eat.”
People are so many generations removed from the farm and food production these days, said Super.
“It’s too common that they see a documentary or activist video and take it as fact. That’s what we’re trying to do; put real visual information out there for those people who do have questions, and are concerned and have honest interest in it. We want the information to be there for them,” he added.
The videos are a way to provide information that has not be overly sensationalized.
Additionally, a goal is to listen to the questions and concerns that others have and engage in a dialogue with them, he said.
“We’ve come a long way in transparency and telling our story, but we’re nowhere near the finish line,” said Super. “We’re going to listen and adapt as we go.”
The survey highlighted several areas where consumers could use more information, said Super.
Other misconceptions among those polled included the belief [73%) that many chicken products contain antibiotic residues, reported the NCC.
If antibiotics are used with chicken production, there is a withdrawal period so no residue remains when the bird is processed, said Super.
“We’ve decreased the on farm mortality rate 490% on farm since the 1950s,” he said. “A lot of people say we should be raising chickens in the backyard the way grandma did, but if we did that we’d be increasing the bird mortality rate, and no one wants that.”
The industry has made advances in the feed and veterinary care it uses, and has selectively bred birds to be larger since the early days of poultry production, he said.
“In terms of the feed, there have certainly been advances,” he said. “Every company has an animal nutritionist on staff, and the most important thing is getting the right feed to the bird at the right stages of their life.”