Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Shrinkage!

Here's a little morsel for all you McNugget and KFC lovers to chew on.

In the course of his courierosity, HWSRN today had occasion to visit the quality control office of a medium-sized poultry processing plant in southern Ontariario. While there, he happened to notice a memo stuck on the board.

Now, I have to paraphrase what he paraphrased because the memo was too long for him to memo-rize, but it was essentially this:

If a shipment (flock) arrives for processing in which the average weight is 2.7 (kilos, thinks HWSRN) then the plant manager has to ask that it be re-weighed. If the average weight is still that high, then they have to determine, depending on weather and other conditions, whether they can temporarily set aside that flock (shipment) for a time to allow for shrinkage.

Translation: if the chickens are too big and heavy, they have to be temporarily put on hold from slaughtering and processing...not being fed...so that they will "shrink" to a suitable size.

Neither HWSRN nor I know what exactly is the suitable size and weight for a chicken about to be slaughtered. But I'm sure we've all heard the stories about multinational chicken purveyors who insist on having their chickens at such and such a size with such and so much weight. Standardization, you know.

Now think about this. You all know how chickens are transported...in those plastic crates, stacked 8 or 10 high, the chickens crammed into them. And someone has to decide to let them sit for a day or two or whatever without food so they'll lose weight. When the memo talks about weather conditions, etc., here's why. Imagine being one of those chickens in a crate on the bottom layer, in the middle of the truck. In the dead of summer, even if you've been freshly captured, when the hot sun beats down, your life expectancy is fairly low. (OK, if you're in one of those crates, your life expectancy is nil...but you know what I mean. And besides, a bird that's dead before the poultry processor kills it is disqualified from human consumption. HWSRN knows this from a previous life working for just one of those places...Yet another heavy load of negative karma to be worked through...and of course ignorance of the karmic law is no excuse...) But now add to the heat, lack of air, and cramped conditions...no food. Would you call this suffering?

The industry calls it, I guess, Standard Operating Procedure.

All in the name of uniform chicken nuggets.

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2 comments:

X said...

Are you a vegetarian? I don't mean as a result of this experience and thought process, i.e., the chickens in the crate. When you became a Buddhist, did you stop eating meat?

Larry Keiler said...

No, I have not become a vegetarian, although I do choose vegetarian much more often than I used to. There are days when I think, "I could totally do this..." And round about that time the hereditary German in me raises its kopf and begins to crave sausage. Nevertheless, I am constantly aware now of the implications, something which I could not say before.

I may have mentioned this before, but after HWSRN had worked in the poultry section of the meatpacker, it put him completely off chicken for a full five years...not out of compassion, but disgust. (An instance where the latin derivation of a word assumes its full meaning...)

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