Letter: Turkey talk is gobbledegook

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Indy Lifestyle Online
The statements made about turkeys in "How safe is your Christmas dinner?" (21 December) are inaccurate and misleading.

The allegation that "antibiotic growth promoters" are used to "plump up" turkeys to give them "breasts so large that they can't be supported by their legs" is incorrect. Turkeys are given minute quantities of antibioticswhich kill harmful bacteria in the bird's gut allowing them to grow healthily to their intended weight with less feed. The shape and size of the bird is determined by its breeding stock.

The statement that turkeys arrive at slaughterhouses with broken legs is not true. Turkeys have strong legs and bone structure, and there is no evidence of problems of broken legs.

The article also states that turkey beaks are snipped off to stop them eating each other. The vast majority of turkeys are reared indoors, and these birds are not beak trimmed at all. Many pole-barn and free-range turkeys have the tip of their upper beak removed when they are a few days old because in the outdoors turkeys can be aggressive and peck each others' feathers.

Finally, it is wrong to suggest that poultry are fed on "poultry, poultry droppings and pigs". The poultry industry voluntarily removed all poultry products from feed in 1989 and in the wake of the BSE crisis the government banned all mammalian meat and bone meal from all animal feed in April 1996.

Peter Bradnock

British Poultry Meat Federation

London WC2

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