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US poultry sector in the spotlight

America is undoubtedly a land of good food. Eating well is part of the culture, with retailers and restaurants generating more than $5tn in sales every year, according to one estimate. The numbers relating to poultry meat are equally staggering...

Nine billion broilers were produced in the US in 2015 – that’s more than 17,000 chickens grown every minute of every day. During the Superbowl weekend some 1.3bn wings were consumed.

It was just before the Superbowl, as January turned to February, that the International Production and Processing Exposition took over Atlanta, Georgia. This congress more than matched America’s poultry industry in size.

The trip gave chance to sample the food scene in the city, and one striking trend was restaurants offering customers information about where their food came from and how it was produced. Another trend in America is clean eating – people are choosing natural, low-fat foods and organic ingredients.

Chicken is versatile enough to be both deep fried as a treat or cooked lean and tossed in a salad. Eggs are a fantastic source of protein and turkey’s credentials as a lean meat are unmatched.

But there is a risk to this optimism. Animal rights organisations increasingly target poultry farms to expose what they consider cruelty. They employ crafty tactics, such as gaining employment, acting as farm inspectors, even using drones to capture film that is presented in such a way that suggests farmers do not care about the stock they raise.

Anyone who works in the poultry industry will tell you that simply isn’t true. And that is why it was heartening to hear from Animal Agriculture Alliance, which aims to counter negative publicity by explaining the positive work that the poultry sector is responsible for – feeding people who can afford to choose the best in welfare, but also those who just want to eat healthy affordable food.

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