Varieties of Chicken We Eat

Maneka Gandhi

Last month , two people were caught in Bhubaneswar with hundreds of dead crows. They had fed the crows fish waste mixed with poison. They told the police that crow meat was used in fast food centres and dhabas to prepare chicken based items – Chinese chicken soup, chicken dumplings, chow mien etc. Since crow meat is cheaper than chicken the smaller eateries bought their meat.

These two are only a small part of a large gang that does this in Orissa. Since the crow is a scavenger – and since the crow has been poisoned, god knows how many humans have had food poisoning after eating the meat.

There are over 500 varieties of vegetables in India . How many varieties of  chicken do you eat ? Let me tell you .

In Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra you are likely to be eating dog-chicken. Many stray dogs are caught illegally by gangs and killed by bashing their heads in with stones or by feeding poisoned sweets. The skin , provided they are not suffering from skin disease is taken for the shoe industry. The meat is sold as chicken to small eateries.

In Bihar you will probably be eating rat chicken. The Musahars are a caste of very poor people who catch rats for a living. They sell the meat. In fact this is so common that the Bihar government, in the first year of Nitish Kumar’s Chief Ministership , attempted to legalise the eating of rats and make it compulsory for eating establishments to carry at least one item of rat meat on their menus. It was felt that this would be better than disguising the meat as chicken.  Unfortunately there was a lot of opposition to bringing the trade out into the open and the idea was dropped. However the meat continues to be sold.

In Tamil Nadu and Karnataka you will be eating squirrel-chicken. The Narikauravas are a tribe that roam around freely , ignored by the forest department inspite of the damage they wreak.  They catch squirrels in cities and then sell them to the meat sellers. Sometimes they catch other small wild animals like mongoose as well and these becomes chicken as well.

In North India you will be eating cat-chicken and sometimes monkey- chicken. The Bahelias of Haryana are the equivalent of the Narikauravas. They kill anything that moves – humans included. All of them , including the women , are the main culprits in killing tigers and selling their parts.  As soon as they get information about an available tiger the families decamp from Haryana and come back only when they have killed it. When they can’t find a big cat they roam the cities and kill all the small cats  and the odd monkey which are sold to the dhabas , specially the ones making Northeastern,  Tibetan and Chinese food.

In Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra you get rabbit-chicken. Rabbit farming was promoted by the government as an industry in which everyone was supposed to get rich growing the animals at home. It did not happen as it is a very delicate animal and dies easily. So professional slaughterhouse people set up rabbit meat industries and pretending they were tribals to collect the subsidies. Unfortunately for them, the market for rabbit meat has not developed. So the rabbit slaughterers sell the meat as chicken.

But why should you care what “ chicken” it is ? A survey done by the SPCA Delhi about 10 years ago , showed that 78% of all chickens sold for their meat spent at least 4 days with broken wings and legs , limbs that were fractured while they were being loaded onto the trucks from Haryana. The law says that only one chicken can be in one cage. Nowhere in India do the poultries put less than 20 in a tempo cage. To have an untreated broken part of your body means gangrene sets in, along with acidity , bacteria and disease. By the time it reaches you , the chicken has been transported to the mandi , then its legs have been tied and it is taken upside down with all its brethren on a motorcycle/ bicycle to a local shop. Then it is fed its own feces while it waits on a roadside cage to be chopped. It inhales all the toxic car fumes that stay in its kidneys. So essentially you get a poisoned, diseased, gangrenous dead body to eat – and no amount of spices will remove the toxicity from its body. Most chicken are covered with feces and studies have repeatedly shown that this does not go even after 40 rinses . In fact washing merely removes the visible fecal matter while forcing harmful bacteria into the chicken’s skin. This is whether you eat chicken at home or in a five star hotel or a posh club. That is why crows, squirrels,rats,dogs,cats,mongooses and any other meat tastes exactly the same.

In fact an uncooked chicken is considered one of the most dangerous items in the kitchen. More than 60% of poultry is contaminated with salmonella, camphylobacter or other micro-organisms that spread through the birds from slaughter to packaging. Each year over 20 million Indians get sick from chicken; the precise figure is unknown since most cases are never reported.

According to the Daily Mail in England , chicken is only 51% of the chicken meat. The rest is chemicals, water and pig skin and entrails. That is why chicken meat is so rubbery and tasteless.

Same problem in each country.

Companies in Holland / Belgium import about 60,000 tons a year of “chicken” that comes from Asia ( us and Thailand ) This meat is pumped with a chemical mix and sold to the rest of Europe .  This “plastic” chicken goes to Indian curry houses, Chinese restaurants and takeaways which disguise it with highly- spiced sauces and colourings. Some is sold to small butchers and cheap supermarket foods .This was first revealed by Panorama , a watchdog programme of BBC TV.  Panorama found traces of pig in cheap chicken nuggets sold by Sainsbury's. The rest of the meat was salt, stabilisers , milk protein lactose, dried glucose syrup and dextrose to counteract the salt. The pig was described as hydrolised protein. The Food Standards Agency is concerned that Moslems might be consuming chicken that contains pork .

If this is what they eat when they have watchdogs and standards in those countries, can you imagine what you are eating within India where there are no standards at all.

To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in


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