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  • Hey, welcome to a special edition of CNN 10.

  • You know that expression "you are what you eat"? Well, CNN has a "Raw Ingredient" series.

  • It looks at how the U.S. food industry has changed, how engineering and importing have

  • replaced old-fashioned growing and how consumer demand still

  • factors in to how the industry produces our food.

  • Our reporter Cristina Alesci has gone inside some of America`s biggest food companies,

  • seeing most people haven`t seen before.

  • And today, we`re zooming in on animal feed and how what they eat ultimately makes its

  • way to our plate.

  • I know I`m not supposed to do it, but every once in a while, it`s necessary -- burying

  • my

  • face in the best barbecue I can find.

  • Americans eat a lot of meat. On average, up to 126 pounds of poultry, beef and pork every

  • year. For some, it`s more than their own body weight.

  • But depending on the animal, producing one pound of meat can take two, three, or even

  • six pounds of feed. And what some of our livestock is

  • eating are things you`d never put in your mouth.

  • We`re going this way.

  • This is a hog finishing farm in Iowa. It`s where pigs get fat.

  • Over the course of five to six months, pigs go from about 13 pounds to 270 pounds in this

  • room.

  • Why did they get all quiet of a sudden?

  • They want to hear what I have to say.

  • Wow, that`s amazing.

  • The smell was awful, but, for me, the most unsavory part of this process is the one you

  • rarely get to examine closely. In

  • fact, it`s one of the most opaque corners of the meat industry. It`s the animal feed

  • itself.

  • Most animals raised in this country eat a secret formula. Some elements of the mix are

  • even unknown to the farmer. But it`s safe to say that it

  • includes proteins, fats and in many cases, drugs. But the base for much of it is lots

  • and lots of corn.

  • Do you feel like this is what you were born to do?

  • I feel this is what God put on the earth for.

  • Roger Zylstra has been farming corn for more than 30 years.

  • This corn is not corn wheaties.

  • No.

  • It`s not corn I put on my grill.

  • No, it is not. We grow it as a commodity. It really ultimately comes down to economics.

  • And if it wasn`t for the meat industry, Roger might have a time staying in business, that`s

  • because America`s livestock are

  • essentially just corn conversion machines.

  • First, the corn travels to a storage facility like this one. This is one million bushels,

  • or 56 million pounds of corn. And that`s just the

  • overflow from the massive storage containers.

  • We need to hold a whole year`s worth of production at one time and then it`s metered out throughout

  • the remainder of the year.

  • Nearly 40 percent of all the corn grown in the U.S. goes to animal feed.

  • Rick Weigel makes hog feed.

  • How many ingredients are looking at the end of the day?

  • Probably 10 to 12 different ingredients in.

  • That includes pig fat. So, yes, the pigs are eating pig fat.

  • One of the biggest feed-makers is 250 miles north, Cargill, in Minnesota.

  • We believe our purpose here is to be able to feed the world. And to feed the world,

  • we`ve

  • got to find the most efficient way to grow healthy animals. So, we spend a lot of time

  • doing the research to tackle exactly that question.

  • Cargill says it can get animals just as fat on half the feed compared to 40 years ago.

  • But for many in the industry, it`s not just about less feed. It`s about bigger animals.

  • How do you get livestock to explode in size in a few months? The industry has a term for

  • it -- renderings. Animal byproducts like meat and bone

  • meal, leftover grease from restaurants, and even meal made from poultry feathers.

  • To get a chicken to market weight, it takes between 42 and 48 days. I mean, that`s

  • amazingly fast.

  • Dr. Keeve Nachman investigates the impact of industrial food production on public health

  • at Johns Hopkins. One of his studies found

  • arsenic in chicken meat. It came from a growth promotion drug in feed that has since been

  • suspended by the FDA.

  • In another study, Nachman`s team found that some chicken feather meal contain small amounts

  • of the active drugs in Tylenol, Benadryl and Prozac.

  • An industry group rejected the findings, but Nachman stands by it.

  • NACHMAN: No matter how they got there, these feathers are destined for use in animals.

  • That was surprising and a little troubling to us.

  • Some producers even use waste feeding cows and pigs what`s known as poultry litter, or

  • simply put, chicken poop, which believe it or not is

  • considered a high protein, lower cost feed.

  • The FDA proposed banning the practice in 2004 to prevent mad cow disease. The FDA decided

  • against the regulation. It said the science simply didn`t

  • justify a ban. The FDA estimates that 1 percent of all chicken poop goes into feed.

  • But none of the farmers I interviewed said they used it.

  • And there`s one more ingredient that`s essential to getting growth out of animals.

  • Where are the drugs?

  • They are in the drug room. We hand-weigh them out and they`re dumped in each batch of feed.

  • Weigel says the majority of his customers request antibiotics in their feed. This is

  • where it comes from.

  • We asked Keeve Nachman about the drugs we saw in this room.

  • I did see one drug that has an active ingredient called carbadox that has been shown to be

  • carcinogenic and cause birth defects, at least in

  • animals. And that drug has been banned in Canada, in the E.U., and in Australia.

  • It`s still approved for use here.

  • But with some restrictions, which Weigel says he follows closely.

  • And get this: More than 70 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are for food

  • production animals.

  • When I tell people 75 percent of the antibiotics in this country go into the animal supply

  • chain, it blows

  • their mind. It`s not possible. How can that be?

  • Antibiotics are for humans. It`s just not possible. I mean, that blows their mind.

  • Jeff Dunn is trying to reform the food industry from the inside, at Campbell`s.

  • Why is that important? Why should people care about that process?

  • Because the process --

  • For those who don`t care. Because clearly there`s a subsection of society that does

  • care, but there`s tons of other people that don`t care?

  • All of this costs money. You know, none of this stuff comes free, and there`s a reason

  • that amount of antibiotic was used by the meat

  • industry, because it was effective for them, it was efficient for them.

  • Ultimately, if the low cost food requires us to do these things to animals in our food

  • system that aren`t long-term healthy, how about we really

  • simply just externalize that costs than the long term health issues?

  • Here`s why using so many antibiotics is a problem:

  • Antibiotics are vital drugs that can help us to defend from bacteria that make us sick, or

  • even kill us.

  • But bacteria can evolve. Every time we use antibiotics, some bacteria survive and those

  • drug resistant bacteria can then multiply and spread.

  • This can result in what many call a super bug.

  • As we use more and more antibiotics, this problem magnifies, generating more kinds of

  • super bugs and making the ones that already exist even more

  • powerful.

  • There are already some strains of drug-resistant bacteria out there and public health officials

  • warn it will only get worse if we don`t cool it on

  • the antibiotics.

  • The FDA says it`s changing antibiotic guidelines for animal feed by December 2016. Veterinarians

  • will have to make sure the drugs are used

  • judiciously and, quote, when needed for specific animal health purposes.

  • The feed-makers I spoke to said they follow FDA regulations. But Nachman isn`t satisfied

  • with the FDA or the industry.

  • But is there an alternative? Maybe going organic.

  • We are farming the same way that my great grandparents would have farmed.

  • Without drugs, the same pound of meat will cost you more.

  • The consumers are willing to pay. I think there will be -- continue to be more demand.

  • And there`s the heart of it, demand for cheap meat. We produce it as efficiently as possible

  • and the conditions the animals lived in means

  • drugs are often used, not only to keep them alive, but to make them fat.

  • Food executives say industrial methods are the only way we`re going to feed 9 billion

  • people in the next three decades. Maybe.

  • But when you buy an unprocessed raw ingredient, do you know what`s really in it? Where it`s

  • been before it gets to your plate? And whether it was

  • produced as safely as possible?

  • Right now, those questions are still too hard to answer.

Hey, welcome to a special edition of CNN 10.

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CNN 10 May 24, 2018

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