Week 4 Discussion- Consumer Safety

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The case I will examine involves Perdue factory farms, and the consumer safety concerns that are associated with the way the chickens are raised. This is in regards to both humans as well as the animals.  The concern for safety stems around the alarming realities concerning meat production practices. Currently there are two federal agencies that set standards of care for raising the farm animals on the time they spend on the farm. The first is the Food Safety and Inspection Service branch of the USDA which is generally responsible for the safety of meat and other poultry products.  Second being the FDA branch of the Department of Health which hold jurisdiction over the contents of animal feed, drugs administered to animals as well as the prevention of diseases. The USDA has no authority to regulate on-farm activities on behalf of animal welfare or food safety. The FDA has the authority to, and does already regulate, most of the contents of animal feed and the drugs that may be administered to farmed animals. The authority from the FDA is derived from the FDCA or the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act which prohibits the introduction of adulterated food products into the consumer market (Stathopoulos, 2010). What is unclear is whether or not the FDA had the authority to regulate the unsanitary and crowded conditions that result in these factory farms which the main concern is regarding consumer safety and also the main problem highlighted within this case. In its application to the economic system, misleading food labels containing terms such as “natural” usually come with an additional cost to consumers.  Although the prices drive up the consumer market, there is no positive impact on the welfare of chickens as well as any benefit resulting to the farmer. The social issues that stand are associated with the misleading information that marketers use to promote the products in which the reality are anything but as advertised and marketed.

Consumer safety is the main concern regarding the Perdue factory farms corporation. Factory farms such as the Perdue Corporation have found ways to cut costs and drive out competitors, and it has come at the expense of the animals’ welfare and the consumers’ health.  The stress put on the animals on the farms suggest anything but humane activity as corporations like Purdue pride themselves in displaying ads such as “humanely raised” on their products.  The way the chickens on the farm are raised affects the healthiness of the meat that humans consume.  The conditions that Perdue factory farms places on their chickens effects the quality of the meat they provide.  The stress levels among the farmed chickens, also makes them more susceptible to infections and diseases. Economically,  In order to cut costs and maximize efficiency, “factory farms intensively confine the animals in unsanitary warehouses, take dangerous shortcuts in the disposal of animal waste, serve cheap, unwholesome feed containing harmful substances, and regularly administer antibiotics and growth hormones to the animals”(Stathopoulos, 2010).  Antibiotics are another major safety concern regarding the farm factories. According to the article Factory Farming and Human Health” The principal potential human health problem with the huge use of antibiotics in farming stems from the similarities between different kinds of antibiotics” (O’Brien, 1997). The main issue is the use of low doses of antibiotics by the modern food animal industry which is the reason drug-resistant bacteria emerges on farms.  In turn, this reaches the general population through human or animal carriers, and through the food consumers eat.  I will focus on applying the utilitarianism theory to the issue of consumer safety concerning factory farms.  The utilitarian theory would support factory farms and the consumption of animal products as morally permissible under the restriction that they are from a humane, free- range farm.  This would not be the case for the current practices used by factory farms such as the Perdue Corporation.  It is important to take into account the interests of farmers, and meat-eaters as they are all affected by the decision.  Reducing suffering for both the animals in the factory farms, in turn creates healthier meat which would benefit the consumers who purchase and consume the products.  Therefore applying utilitarianism to the issue of consumer safety among factory farms concludes it to be morally impermissible due to the little well-being it provides to both the animals and consumers. This can be enforced if the federal agencies mentioned earlier set standards of care for the raising of farmed animals while they are on the farm.

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