Parents, if your next chicken soufflé sends yourselves and the kids into a euphoric, hallucinogenic stupor during which you’re drawn to trance music, stay hydrated and ride that high out for about two hours, because we think we know what’s wrong—your chicken might have been spiked with ketamine, also known by its party-drug name, “special K.”
A lawsuit filed on Thursday in San Francisco by three consumer advocacy groups—Organic Consumers Association, Friends of the Earth, and the Center for Food Safety—disputes Sanderson Farms’ labeling of their chicken as “100% Natural.”
Sanderson Farms is the United States’ third-largest producer of chicken.
The suit claims the groups obtained USDA inspection results of the company’s chicken in five states—Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas—through the Freedom of Information Act.
Ketamine, which as a recreational drug was responsible for more than 90 deaths in England and Wales from 2005 to 2013, is among the chemicals the plaintiffs claim was discovered in some chicken.
In 33 percent of the visits, some residue testing came back positive. The plaintiffs counted 49 instances in which “samples tested positive for residues that are not ‘100% Natural,’” including five findings of chloramphenicol, a potent antibiotic that can cause bone marrow suppression in humans and isn’t approved for use in animals that will become food. (Food regulators can seize products found to be tainted with it.)
Desethylene ciprofloxacin, a metabolite of ciprofloxacin, a medically important antibiotic for humans, was found three times, according to the lawsuit. … Butorphanol, an opioid analgesic, and melengesterol acetate, a synthetic hormone not approved for use in poultry, were also found. The tests also yielded 82 instances of “unconfirmed residues,” including the aforementioned ketamine and some pesticides.
Medically, light doses of ketamine are used as an anesthetic.
“Sanderson Farms does not administer the antibiotics, other chemicals and pesticides, or ‘other pharmaceuticals’ listed in the complaint with one exception,” Sanderson Farms said in a statement, according to Bloomberg. “Our veterinarians do from time to time prescribe penicillin in FDA approved doses to treat sick flocks.”
The company plans to fight the charges.