Senator addresses poultry labeling issue

by Bryan Salvage
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LIVINGSTON, CALIF. –  U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer's (D-Calif.) is urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to reconsider labeling regulations that permit sodium-injected – or "plumped" – chicken products to carry the "natural" label. Sen. Boxer has commended Foster Farms' commitment to raising consumer awareness about truly natural fresh poultry products “and the misleading practice of injecting – or plumping – fresh chicken with added saltwater and still calling it ‘natural,’ according to a Foster Farms news release.

"In my own home state of California, poultry companies are to be commended for raising consumer awareness about what 'natural' labeling should really mean," Ms. Boxer said.

She quoted findings from a Foster Farms consumer survey which found that "more than two-thirds of consumers who purchased sodium injected chicken were unaware that it contained sodium additives" during a press conference. Chicken labeled "natural" can contain up to 500% more sodium than truly natural, no saltwater added, fresh chicken. Under current guidelines, both plumped and truly "natural" poultry can be labeled "natural."

"At Foster Farms, we believe that 'natural' labeled chicken should be just that – fresh, raw chicken - not chicken loaded with saltwater and additives that's been trucked across the country to your grocery store," said Ira Brill, director of marketing for Foster Farms. "Consumers need to be able to rely on food labels; they need to know what they're buying."

Foster Farms' Say No to Plumping consumer awareness campaign generated more than 20,000 petition signatures from consumers who want the U.S.D.A. to preserve the term "natural" for truly natural fresh foods, free of saltwater, additives or preservatives in just four months, the company said.

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