‘Big Chicken’ chronicles the public health dangers of using antibiotics in farming | Science News

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‘Big Chicken’ chronicles the public health dangers of using antibiotics in farming

Efforts to raise bigger birds unwittingly spawned drug resistance in bacteria

By
8:00am, September 17, 2017
chicken farm

COOPED UP  Thanks in large part to antibiotics, chicken production has become heavily industrialized, as detailed in a new book.

Big Chicken
Maryn McKenna
National Geographic, $27

Journalist Maryn McKenna opens Big Chicken by teasing our taste buds with a description of the succulent roasted chickens she bought at an open-air market in Paris. The birds tasted nothing like the bland, uniform chicken offered at U.S. grocery stores. This meat had an earthy, lush, animal flavor. From this tantalizing oh-so-European tableau, McKenna hits us with a sickening contrast — scientists chasing outbreaks of drug-resistant Salmonella infections in humans, and ailing chickens living in crowded conditions and never seeing the light of day.

Antibiotics are at the root of both nightmares, McKenna argues.

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