April 29, 2013

Students back Foster Farms and fresh chicken lobby with legislation

Students back Foster Farms and fresh chicken lobby with legislation to keep enhanced fresh chicken out of schools

A year ago, Foster Farms’ television advertising featured those well known "Imposters" as enhanced and "pumped up" chickens full of water, salt and other ingredients. Consumers received a funny, yet important lesson on the way some companies sell fresh chicken. They enhance it with up to 15 percent of salt water and other ingredients, make some good money on selling liquid, and label that chicken "fresh." California chicken companies don’t like that, and the industry has spent many years trying to get the USDA to change their labeling policy. That could happen this year, thanks to a lot of lobbying from California and other places.

A group of Los Angeles students attending Windward School, located between the Los Angeles Airport and Hollywood, and decided they needed to be sure this fresh "pumped up" chicken would never be sold in schools. They called the California Poultry Federation, and President Bill Mattos flew down to meet the class. They showed him an impressive power point presentation and asked him to help them introduce legislation that would keep "pumped up" fresh chicken out of schools.

The rest is almost history. Assemblyman Ian Calderon, a brand new assembly member who looks as young as the Windward students, introduced that legislation this year, and it will be heard in its first committee next Wednesday in Sacramento. The students will attend the hearing with Mattos and other supporters like the UFCW and the Teamsters, two unions representing Foster Farms and other California chicken companies.

Mattos is optimistic that this legislation will go all the way to the governor’s desk, and he is hopeful that Governor Jerry Brown will sign it. Meanwhile the students will walk the halls of the State Capitol talking to legislators and providing them information why enhanced "pumped up" chicken should not be sold and/or fed to students. The added salt and other ingredients aren’t necessary in schools where administration and teachers are looking for more healthful meals.

Meanwhile, Foster Farms and the fresh chicken lobby will continue urging the USDA to disallow enhanced chicken to be labeled fresh. And they will argue that any "enhanced" chicken should carry labels big enough to read easily…..No fine print please!

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