Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

By now you must be fed up with reading or listening to things about the Corona Virus. It has taken everyone’s attention away from what they do, to whether they want to live or not. Economy, foreign affairs, shops closed, a potential food rationing coming up , unseasonal rains, global warming, a rise in cancer cases – every worry has become irrelevant in the face of a threat from someone who sneezes or coughs.

Some good things have happened in this time of Corona. The weather is better, the large weddings and parties have disappeared so there is less noise and certainly no polluting fire crackers, there is much less traffic and I can hear the birds again.  Families spend more time with each other and, suddenly, we discover that we can find happiness within a much smaller circle doing gentler things.

The government too has a breather as everyone’s attention is diverted.  The social media is less political and less vicious. Politicians become irrelevant and their coming and going out of parties is seen as something that has no bearing on your life.

There is much to cry as well. Everyone already struggling, in a failing economy, is faced with the almost fatal blow of no one coming to shop any more. Luxury goods are hit the worst. At the lower end – street food vendors, whole markets of cloth and shoe sellers, small shops in malls … all of them are out of business. Prices of food are up.

For me, and the animal world, it is a terrible time. A large number of government and private agencies, who have nothing to do with the virus, have become experts at spreading fake news. The Western Railways in Mumbai tell you to avoid touching your pets, the Thane Municipal Corporation has spread flyers saying the same. The Star Insurance company sent out mailers, the NTPC electricity company …..  each one withdrew their nonsensical information when they received a rocket from the Health Ministry but, by then, people who were looking for an excuse to do harm have taken their dogs and dumped hundreds of them on highways where many have been run over, or in shelters like mine. All these animals will suffer and die – for no fault of their own.

The Corona virus cannot be spread to animals and no human can get it from animals. The Corona virus is a more severe form of the seasonal flu – which mutates every season. Every creature on the planet wants to live, and viruses have a life as well. In order to live and multiply they have to constantly change, as the human body’s defences will not succumb to the same virus again. Every time you get flu, it is a different virus. But never have you ever given a cough and cold to your dog or cat or cow and goat, or got it from them. And this time is no different.  If you are mean to your animals now, think of what it does to your karma and beware of the virus !!

The second tragedy has been the complete drying up of donations, both in the form of money and in food. Hundreds of people come to my shelters every day and they bring food for the cows, monkeys and dogs. Now, because of the virus they have stopped coming, because everyone wants to stay at home and we have had to buy much more food for the first time – and that frightens me. The donations have stopped coming as well. The shopkeepers are uncertain about how long this spell of bad luck will last and the normal salaried person and consumer is uncertain about what the future will bring in terms of food shortages and supply systems. So, the first thing down the drain is charity . Every NGO looking after animals is frightened.  Companies giving their CSRs to animals (very, very few to begin with) are not doing so any more, because their profits  have crashed, or they have been asked by the government to put it into the Corona Virus basket (for what, I have no idea so far). So we are broke. It seems that God only exists in good times, and the human being forgets his duty towards the world in bad ones and turns completely selfish.

Many people have asked me whether they are more likely to get the virus if they eat meat. This is what you  need to know :  Animal meat is bad for the human body. The virus will attack everyone – whether you wear those foolish masks or gloves is irrelevant. But whether the virus can affect your body, to the point that it kills you, depends on your immunity system. Meat attacks the immunity system. Most meat and chicken carry a huge overload of viruses, bacteria and antibiotics. If you eat it – especially chicken and eggs – you will get all the germs and all the antibiotics and hormones that these animals have been given to keep them alive. 70% of India’s antibiotics are fed to animals and once these enter your body, and you get the Corona virus , the antibiotics the doctors give you will have little or no effect in curing you. Then you need to go back to charity and god.

Buffaloes and cows have leukaemia and tuberculosis, chickens have diabetes and many, many other diseases, pigs have every kind of rapacious worm. Are you sure you want to put these diseases into your body right now ?

I am bringing out a book in two months called Poison on Your Plate. It lists all the antibiotics and chemicals that meat, eggs and milk, carry and its effect so far has been that my editors and publishers have turned vegetarian.  If you want to be fit enough to tackle the virus when it hits you – which it will – then stop eating meat. 

Regarding the eating of wild animals, that China  and many countries in South east Asia eat - snakes, bats bears, tigers, pangolins, to name a few - most of these animals carry a very high viral load and this mutates in the human body. Now the Chinese have been officially asked not to eat every species on the planet, but what about India ? In just Manipur alone there is a terrible market in a district called Tamenglong, where dogs, pangolins, snakes, bats, monkeys, and everything you can imagine, are sold daily. Smugglers come from Myanmar daily to buy this meat. These markets should be stopped immediately.

Lastly : there is a belief that the virus will disappear when the weather warms, that there is a bandwidth of temperature within which the virus operates. But the weather has always been hot in Kerala – and the most cases are there. It has spread all over Africa. The virus will never disappear. Yes, this virus will go away after a few months, maybe, when it runs out of weakened bodies and you develop an immunity to it. But it will return in another form a few months later and we will name it differently, as we have the previous ones – chikengunya, swine flu, bird flu, corona. Will you be ready for it then ?  Keep your body healthy. 

To join the animal welfare movement contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Over the years we have been conditioned to like certain things and dislike others. Sometimes these likes come in waves called fashion and die out, others are ingrained in us over decades. We, in India , still haven’t in the 70 years of Independence, got over the belief that a fair complexion is better than a dark one.

So it is with eggs. Most egg eaters believe that the yellower an egg, the better it is. If the yolk is orange-red, it has the most vitamins and Omega 3, and the least cholesterol.

This could be true if we were still eating eggs that came from chickens that roam in the sun, in open fields with good , “unpesticided” grass with natural insects in it. But that time is long gone. The eggs you eat are from industries called poultries and most chickens have never seen a green field. A “free range” egg simply means that instead of been crushed into cages, the chickens are brought up on the overcrowded cement floor of the factory.

A yolk can only be yellow if the chicken is in natural sunlight and eats natural foods. High carotenoid foods, such as leafy greens and lucerne grass, make yolks a darker orange. Otherwise the yolk remains pale white. And the consumer believes that he is eating a bad egg. So, poultries all over the world use chemicals as yolk colour enhancers.

These cosmetic food dyes are placed in feed pellets and carefully calibrated to get the desired yellow shade, or “ideal colour outcome”. In fact, egg shade cards (Roche Colour Fan) are freely available on the Net and are sold to poultries.

The “free range” and “organic” poultry dyes will make you believe that their dyes are derived from capsicum, marigold or paprika. Fresh corn and turmeric extracts can make the yolk look more orange. Peppers make it redder. The colour of the yolk, we believe, can inform us about the health and living conditions of the chicken. A darker orange yolk tells us that a chicken is eating a diet on open pasture, where it feeds on carotenoid-rich grasses, insects, seeds, vegetables and flowers, and so is getting enough vitamins and carotenoids from the natural pigments of plants.

Not true. They are being fed chemicals in the form of pigments. Yolk colour has no longer any relationship to quality or nutritive value. All chickens in poultry factories are fed mainly cheap, non nutritious grain, and this produces a pale or white yolk. 

Poultry owners had discovered 60 years ago that they can control egg yolk colour. Giving yellow vegetables, like carrots and squash, in the food increases carotinoids and xanthophylls and makes the yolk a richer colour and the feed far more nutritious. Both the chicken and egg benefit.

But natural foods are expensive products when the industry wants to sell eggs cheap. So they use chemical dyes.

These serve two purposes : they make the sick, malnourished chicken, brought up on an inappropriate diet of mainly grain to make it fatter quickly, look more orange. People will sometimes refuse to buy pale bodies.

And they give the yolks colour.

There are thousands of sellers of these dyes on the Net. Some sell marigold extract in both powder and liquid form - India is the top seller of these dyes.  Most of the cheap, synthetic carotenoid dyes are manufactured in China. Scientists have perfected 16 yolk colours in a yolk fan, which go from light yellow to intense orange and these are sold to different countries depending on consumer traditions.

Here are some of the chemicals:

Some are semi natural like Lutein, which the sellers claim is a purified extract of xanthophylls from marigold oleoresins, or oils mixed with potassium hydroxide, methanol or propylene glycol. The resulting chemical is called Zeanthaxin.

But, most are just synthetic chemicals like Rovimix Carophyll Yellow, Canthaxanthin and Xanthophyll B. Some of the dyes have iron oxides in them.

There are hundreds of synthetic chemical  dyes on the market. One of the largest international sellers is BASF, and they start their propaganda for chemical dyes by saying that poultry cannot produce carotinoids on their own so they have to fed them, as the market prefers chickens with more orange feet and deeper coloured yolk. And feeding them natural food like marigold petals, turmeric etc. causes egg yolks to have varying colours and can only give a faint colouring of lemony yellow, so it is better for poultries to standardize their products and make their yolks a deep orange by using their products called Lucantin Yellow and Lucantin Red which have a chemical mysteriously called C-30.

Using chemicals is bad enough, but using banned ones is extremely dangerous.

In a recent study "Effect of Pigments with Different Origins on Pigmentation and Performance of Broilers" by Tarique Tunio, Shuming Yang et al, of the State Key Laboratory of Agro-Product Quality and Safety, Institute of Quality Standards and Testing Technology for Agro-products, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing China  and Department of Agricultural Sciences, Faculty of Sciences, Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad, Pakistan, the scientists found that poultries are buying dyes which are a combination of lutein and synthetic canthaxanthin and orange-II.

Orange II, or Acid Orange 7,  is a banned dye belonging to the class of Azo dyes. These Azo dyes are carcinogenic (Boeninger, 1980). Many countries now regulate the use of azo-dyes in food products and the use of these dyes in food is strongly prohibited.

But they are used freely in India in the dyeing industry. Orange II is used in inks, paper, paint coatings and plastics. Since the chemical is cheap and freely available, and makes the egg and chicken a deep yellow/orange, it is used  by irresponsible poultry producers in the entire subcontinent and China.

The study discovered that natural Lutein had the best impact on colour. But it was expensive. Orange II had the same impact and it is very cheap.  But while Lutein had no adverse impact on chickens, Orange II causes severe breast muscle fibrosis in chickens. Not only is that extremely painful for the birds, it also makes their meat very chewy and inedible after they are killed. Canthaxanthin, which is the second option, also caused fibrosis in chickens but to a lesser degree.

The study recommended that investigations be done to determine the effects and stop the use of authorized synthetic pigments being used in this large scale.

So, what do these colouring agents do to you ? They allow the poultry owners to feed their hens bad food, keep them in a state of malnutrition while pumping them with chemicals to keep them alive and artificially obese, and make the skin and eggs look healthy by colouring them. The chickens would have gotten many more nutrients if they had really grazed in the open. A study done at Penn State University showed that chickens, who grazed outside and were given natural foods, had deep yellow yolks with twice the amount of Vitamin R, Omega 3 fatty acids and 38% more Vitamin A than factory farmed eggs. Less cholesterol. Less saturated fat.

Forget the chickens. When you eat the deep yellow yolk, you could be paving the way to cancer. 

To join the animal welfare movement contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Every now and then I rescue chickens from the illegal roadside khokhas, where they sit in wire cages and watch their brothers being beheaded. (I have stopped all the khokhas in my constituency and so should you as, under the Municipal Act passed by Parliament years ago, these are illegal.) When I take them to a farm, many of them simply cannot walk, even though we put them down on soft grass. Most walk a few steps, then sit down, then try again after a time. They are clearly in great pain.

Why are broiler chickens lame, and how do their walking problems affect you when you eat them ?

Broiler chickens are lame because they are fed hormones and unnatural foods to make their bodies grow very fat in a very short time. The legs are unable to take this weight and so they have great difficulty walking. Apart from that, they are kept in cages with wire flooring and the wires bite into their feet causing wounds. Most poultry scientists have recommended removing wire floors, but the industry continues to use them because the urine and faeces can go through the wires and be collected for sale.

20% or more broiler chickens are lame because they are victims of  bacterial chondronecrosis with osteomyelitis (BCO). Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone. Bones can become infected in a number of ways: Bacterial infection from a wound in one part of the body may spread through the bloodstream into the bone, or a fracture may expose the bone to infection. The ribs become infected and the spinal cord is compressed. Internal wounds develop. Bacteria enter these wounds and create abscesses in the bones. Birds become lame to begin with, and then stop walking and lie on their sides. They flap their wings occasionally, to try and move, but the wings then develop abscesses too. When they stop walking, and remain in a sitting posture for prolonged periods, the major arteries supplying their legs are compressed and the cells start dying (necrosis). They cannot reach food or water, and die of disease and starvation. These birds don’t respond to treatment, as antibiotics don’t work on bacterial bone and joint infections.

Researchers have found these bacteria in lame chickens: Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus spp., Escherichia coli, Enterococcus cecorum, Salmonella spp and Staphylococcus agnetis. Other sporadic causes, of osteomyelitis and arthritis in poultry, include Pasteurella multocida, Ornithobacterium rhinotracheale, Trueperella Arcanobacterium pyogenes, Enterococcus  spp., Streptococcus spp., Salmonella spp., Streptobacillus moniliformis, Aspergillus spp., E. faecalis, E. durans.

Escherichia coli is often responsible for flock outbreaks of arthritis, and osteomyelitis, in broiler chickens. E. coli  bacteria colonize the lining of the respiratory and intestinal tract and skin, and then enter the body through a wound. They first cause intestinal infections, and are rapidly spread by the circulatory system. The weakness of the artificially, rapidly growing bones  make it very difficult for the immune system to prevent infection and osteomyelitis, as they already suffer from micro fractures. So, micro abscesses develop in the body and then develop into an active site of infection.

When the chicken dies of these diseases, it is still sold to you. And some of these bacteria  are very dangerous to the human being.

Staphylococcus bacterial infections can turn deadly if the bacteria invade deeper into the human body, entering your bloodstream, joints, bones, lungs or heart. A growing number of healthy people are developing life-threatening staph infections, ranging from food poisoning, skin problems, septicaemia, septic arthritis, of knees, shoulders, hips, and fingers or toes, to infections of the inner lining of the heart. Some staph infections no longer respond to common antibiotics.

Staphylococcus aureus can cause a range of illnesses, from minor skin infections, such as pimples, boils, cellulitis, carbuncles and abscesses, to life-threatening diseases such as pneumonia, meningitis, osteomyelitis, endocarditis, toxic shock syndrome, bacteremia, and sepsis.

Salmonella  bacterial diseases affect the intestinal tract. People develop diarrhoea, fever and abdominal cramps. In some cases the diarrhoea, associated with salmonella infection, can be so dehydrating as to require prompt medical attention. Life-threatening complications also may develop, if the infection spreads beyond the intestines.

Escherichia coli infections cause intestinal infections, with diarrhoea, abdominal pain, fever, and sometimes vomiting.  It is one of the most powerful toxins.

Pasteurella multocida can cause skin and soft tissue infections, following a bite or scratch. Pain,  swelling, and erythema often develop and progress rapidly.

Enterococcus spp, Enterococcus faecalis and E. faecium cause a variety of infections, including endocarditis, urinary tract infections, prostatitis, intra-abdominal infection, cellulitis, and wound infection. Some people with infections have diarrhoea, urinate a lot, feel weak and sick, or have fever and chills.

Streptococcus spp. causes streptococcal pharyngitis, pyoderma, abscesses, cellulitis, endocarditis, polyarthritis, pneumonia and septicemia.  Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome is an  often fatal disease characterized by shock and multiorgan failure.

Streptobacillus moniliformis can cause ulcers at the site of a wound, fever and complications in the wound.

Aspergillus spp. affects people with weakened immune systems, or lung diseases, who can develop allergic reactions, lung infections, and infections in their organs.

Enterococcus spp., particularly E. faecalis,  also causes multi organ infections in humans. The bacteria are resistant to many antibiotics. A study, of ten human patients with osteomyelitis, showed that eight cases were due to infection by E. faecalis. A study in Brazil showed the presence of this bacterium in 42% of the chicken carcasses tested (Campos et al). All strains were resistant to the antibiotics tested. E. faecalis is particularly dangerous because it has the ability to transfer its resistance genes to other organisms present in the intestinal tract of humans and animals, limiting the utilization of antibacterial drugs (Campos et al., 2013).

Contamination of animals and their by-products, by resistant bacteria and their transmission to humans, are an animal and public health concern. The sicker the animal, the sicker you will get when you eat it.

The poultry industry has been told, again and again, to do the following things in order to reduce lameness, suffering and premature death.

1. Stop using wire floors in the cages, in fact, stop caging altogether.

2. Give more nutritious food and stop the periods of starvation.

3. Avoid high housing density.

4. Ensure adequate access to feeders.

5.Keep the place clean and prevent respiratory diseases. This means emptying and completely disinfecting the broiler house; changing the litter; adequate cleaning of water lines and continuously sanitizing the water. All practices, to prevent bacterial infections, would help lessen bone inflammation.

Most poultries in India have ignored these directions. The result is that the chickens you eat are full of abscesses and bacteria, which do not go away in cooking. For those consumers who want to buy large chickens: the bigger the chicken, the more likely that it had all these diseases. 

To join the animal welfare movement contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., www. peopleforanimalsindia. org