Animal Treatment in the Food Industry

Wyatt Hodge, MVC writer

The average American eats roughly 1,885 lbs of food in a year, meaning that Americans collectively consume a total of about 624,781,894,685 lbs of food in a year. That is about 312 million tons of food. Although this is an unimaginable amount of food, the U.S. is able to meet this demand, and is capable of producing 360 million tons of corn alone. When all the other food that the U.S. produces is added together, there is more than enough food to feed every American and still export what’s left over for profit. 

In 2017, the U.S. produced 52 billion pounds of meat and 48 billion pounds of poultry. The U.S. produces so much meat that it is the number one producer of beef in the world. All of this food goes to feed the world’s ever growing population, to which more and more food must be produced to keep up. 

Due to the increasing demand, there have been many new innovations in food production that have led to the modern food industry. Many of these innovations have come at the expense of the animals. 

The most available meat in the U.S. comes from chicken. Chickens have been selectively bred, raised and genetically modified to have more and more meat. This has led to most industrially raised chickens growing so quickly and becoming so big and fat that they can hardly walk under their own weight after only forty days.

Beef is the second most available meat in the U.S. Cows are raised in densely packed factory farms where they spend most of their lives cramped in pens covered in their own manure. Most cattle are also fed on a diet of corn since corn is so easily producible in large quantities. This is a problem for cows because they have not evolved to eat corn and they are not able to properly digest it. This causes an increase in E-coli in the cow population. Then, when these cows are brought to be slaughtered, they are still covered in their filth and although they are cleaned the odds of some filth being missed are high and the consequences to not only the animal but consumers as well are detrimental.

Pork is the third most available meat in the U.S. Pigs are treated in a nearly identical way as cows with the same cramped conditions. Mother pigs are often kept in small cages both during their pregnancy and after it. Piglets are also mutilated when they are young such as having their tails removed and their ears hole punched to better suit them for their life in the factory farm. This is done to prevent further injury such as tail biting. 

As a result of rising awareness of the inhumane treatment of animals in the food industry, there has been an increase in smaller businesses offering animal products with a guarantee of humane treatment. These businesses are mostly online where consumers can order their products and have them shipped to their homes, but they can occasionally be found in stores and local markets as well. 

Any consumer who wants products produced without animal cruelty only needs to research the brands online to find which ones they want to support. This helpful tool from ASPCA can be used to research specific products and find brands that are humanely sourced. The cruel treatment of animals in the modern food industry has begun to lessen as more and more people are buying from these cruelty free providers and profits follow with them. This can already be seen as companies like Meijer change to ethically sourced products and promote this for marketing. 

So as consumers continue to buy more ethically produced products, producers are also shifting to ethically producing their products to maintain or increase profits. This means that for anyone wishing to change the way the food industry treats animals, all they have to do is buy from businesses that treat their animals humanely.