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The Raw Deal on Raw Manure: Manure Means Fresh Food — So Why Does the FDA Want to Shut It Down?

January 23, 2017

“We think of [animal manure] as the best thing in the world,” NPR quoted organic farmer Jim Crawford. “And [the FDA] think[s] of it as toxic and nasty and disgusting.” <…

And the FDA may be onto something: Millions of Americans get sick each year from food-borne illnesses, caused by pathogens like salmonella. Those bad bacteria, viruses and microbes can live in the soil, and can get there on the back of fresh, raw manure. In fact, some of those baddies can live in the soil for more than 300 days, according to some reports. <…

With so much on the line, the FDA says, “better safe than sorry.” The federal agency has taken on new food safety authority since 2011 with the Food Safety Modernization Act, and is considering the addition of more food safety rules for consumer protection, like banning harvest for nine months on any field that uses raw manure. <…

For organic farmers like Crawford, banning that “nice black manure that’s just rich and full of good microorganisms” would shut him down. “We wouldn’t even be able to function,” he told NPR.

So what’s a manure-lover to do?

Will Daniel of Earthbound Farm is opting for “a pelletized, processed chicken manure product” that’s been treated with heat and pressure to kill all microbes, according to NPR. “We’ve gone in that direction because we feel that it’s very important to assure that we are not spreading these pathogens in our fields, that could lead to contaminated product,” he says.

Using processed manure works in conjunction with FDA rules because the regulations cover raw manure only — not processed manure. A special manure-drying process, like one that uses rotary dryers designed by Uzelac Industries, can dry raw manure using high enough temperatures to reduce the bad pathogens found in natural manure. That process helps to address the FDA’s concerns: The result is a processed manure product that retains the best part of fresh manure, designed with pathogen-kill in mind. It’s a win-win for everybody.

We’d love to talk turkey (and more fowl subjects) at the International Poultry Expo Jan. 31 – Feb 2. Give Uzelac Industries a call — we’ll be there!

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