Name: Jessica Turner
Student Number: n8584371
Tutor: Michelle Newcomb


The Artefact




The video was found from:
http://osocio.org/message/mad_sausage/

The video campaign created by Director Louis van Zwol and production company 'IamErika' highlights the issue of factory farming and the cruel treatment of animals in order to produce cheap and mass produced meat commonly used by fast food industry. The video displays a young man purchasing and attempting to eat a cheap takeaway sausage when the sausage begins to tell him about some of cruel and disturbing practices it experienced. This presents the issue of the ethical aspects of eating meat as well as the health aspects of the meat on the human body and the environment at large. The video also displays a montage of some disturbing footage of animals in the factory farming setting. Overall it provides a powerful imagery and understanding of where meat does come from in a different perspective, allowing people to reflect on what their meat went through before becoming just another food product.

The Public Health Issue


The topic for my assessment two and this assessment was 'The ethical and health aspects of eating meat'.

This artefact clearly displays the view that eating meat, in particular factory farmed meat, is bad and unethical. The video uses terms as like 'Ever been locked up? Well I was born in prison mate, an awful place that was I can tell ya. Would have given my right f**king leg to taste fresh air, ended giving all of them.' And 'Sorry about that, caught something when I was inside, hope it's not contangieous for your sake'. Both quotes support the idea that meat farmed this way is immoral and unsafe for human health. In todays society there is a lack of ethical responsibility when it comes to animal rights, a clear trend which seems to be that when profit can be made the rights of the animal is ignored. Ignorance to the treatment of these animals is also a growing concern, people tend to prefer not to know where their was meat was born and brought up in as long as it cheap and have access to it.

The second public health issue would be the meat industry negative contribution to the environment. Human health greatly relies on a healthy and sustainable environment. As the industry grows and expands the amount of detrimental environmental effects can be seen. Including soil erosion, accumulation of toxic metals and large ecological footprint being just some of the issues facing todays society.

Literature Review


Meat farming in Australia is one of Australia highest grossing agricultural industries with 90% of all cattle farmed in Australia used by the beef industry, making meat a highly profitable business. (Australian Government, 2011) The way in which these animals are housed and cared for is mandated under each individual State and Territory government under they 'Animal Welfare Act'. A major component to this act is the animal will not suffer any unreasonable and unnecessary pain or distress when killed. (Australian Meat Industry, 2011) As seen in the artefact many animals in factory farming experienced all sorts of distress and pain whilst housed and slaughtered. Hence an unethical treatment of animals occurs frequently within Australia and across the world.

The Australia Meat Industry Council (AMIC) refers to the five internationally recognised freedoms of animals when setting codes of practice and welfare standards within Australia. These are:
  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst
  2. Freedom from discomfort
  3. Freedom from pain, injury and disease
  4. Freedom to express normal behaviour
  5. Freedom from fear and distress
(Australian Meat Industry Council, 2011)

In a factory farming setting many, if not all of these freedoms, are not respected or upheld. A key example of this, particularly in Australia, is the Battery Hen.

A Battery Hen is used in egg production and is one of the more disturbing practices still allowed within Australia. A process which involves keeping hens in cages with an allocated space just less then a A4 sheet of paper. The hens are kept in artificially lit surrounds and in sloped cages all to maximise laying activity.The hens often experience a change in behaviour and become aggressive towards one another in these close conditions. This had lead many farmers to 'de-beak' the bird, a process which can cause the bird serious injury and pain due to chronic nerve and tissue damage. (Vocieless, 2012) This is a common example of how we manipulate animals in a way which allows our job to be easy, but in affect causes the welfare standard to be dropped. (Webster F, 1994, p. 267)

The practice of battery hens which exploits the animals rights in order to turn over a high quantity of product as well as a larger profit is becoming, slowly, less accepted world wide. The European Union (EU) being one of the first to ban the practice having aimed to eliminate the use of battery hens by 2012. This trend is a growing movement as California set to also eliminate their used by 2015 and the state of Michigan following suit aiming to be rid of the practice by 2019. Australia still yet to set a date on when it will phases out the use of the battery hens, although it can be noted that there has been a significant drop in the sales of caged eggs as an increase in the amount of free rearrange eggs purchased grew by 67% from 2005 to 2010. (Vocieless, 2012). Perhaps this sudden drop could be attributed to knowledge and education around the issue as the EU began phasing out the practice.

Eating meat is not an essential part of a healthy diet, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) heavily promote a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle as a choice for better health. PETA state that a study through The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics say that vegetarians and vegans have a lower risk of developing many serious conditions and diseases such as ischemic heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and many cancers. The study showed a stronger immune system for vegetarians and vegans and longer life expectancy with a difference up to six to ten years. (PETA, 2013)

In the article by Deckers, J (2013) entitled: 'Obesity, Public Health and the Consumption of Animal Products' highlights the holistic pressures of eating meat on human health and the environment at large. Australia now being one of the fattest nations the governments has begun looking into initiates to solve the issue, overly high meat consumption has been labeled as a potential factor in the recent peak obesity, much of the 'farmed' meat eaten within the country is found to contain many substances. These can included pesticides, dioxins and metal compounds all harmful to human health. Meat was also found to have wide range of parasitic and bacterial diseases which now, thanks partly to drug over-use, are resistance to many antibiotics. Hence potential for spread of such diseases in increased. (Deckers J, 2013, p.30)

The article also continues on to discuss the environmental aspects of the meat industry and some of the negative 'Global Health Impacts' (GHI) it has. The farm sector has had a large contribution toward the large strain currently held on the environment. Areas such as soil degradation done through compacting the soil with hoofs and machinery used by the agricultural sector, deforestation, contamination of fresh water supplies and water and atmospheric pollution. The article referenced a study undertaken in 2002 stating that 18% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emission where causes through the farming sector. (Deckers J, 2013, p.30-31)

These effects on the environment can be expected to worsen as the world population continues to rise. An article by Pulhar, E. B. (2009) discusses the growing demand as America and other developed countries begin rising the amount of meat intake and how if the practices of meat rearing continue then it can be expected that the industry will be putting human health and the environment at risk. It was report that in the year of 2007 10.378 billion animals were slaughter for food within America, an alarming high number, with the typical American meat eater contributing up to one-and-a-half tons of CO2 more than the average vegetarian American. (Pulhar E B, 2009, p.456)

To conclude many studies and researchers have found that we can not continue the same practices today without the risk to human health, environmental health, and animal rights. If the world continues to consume such high levels of meat then serious interventions must be taken to prevent the amount of damage we inflict.

Cultural and Social Analysis


A farm animal is a living being, an important and often ignored fact by many consumers. In the article 'meat and right: the ethical dilemma' by A.J.F. Webster (1994) highlights this issue and address ways in which it is a consumer's ethical responsibility to be aware of the actions that led to their decision to support the industry. The food industry has been exploiting the separation of the consumer from the realties of product production for many years and this has dramatically back fired by the media portraying the meeting industry of uncaring and ruthlessly individual driven by profit whilst exploiting animals rights. (Webster F, 1994, p. 268) This messages promotes an ignorant attitude within the market where it is preferred to not know what occurs behind close doors and hence allowing cruel actions toward animals happen without any responsibility.

The article also highlights the two major issues for consumers when discussing the practices of slaughter and care of animals within industry. These include:
1.Consumers do not wish to know where their meat came from.
2.Only a minority of people can afford the more expensive high welfare standard products and it is important to provide meat at an accessible price to all people. 
(Webster F, 1994, p. 268-269)
Both point Webster argues can be dismissed although both are valid concerns. Firstly when dealing with the consumer choice in ignorance this is only true if the consumer chooses to only view farm animals as commodities and not as living being with perception of feeling. The latter argument has proven to be slightly harder to dismiss, but an argument can still be made. An acknowledgement must be made that meat and meat products are a luxury, not a necessary part of human life. A vast majority of the western world can afford and eat more meat then necessary as it is, hence can afford to pay the slightly higher cost in order to provide a healthier and more ethical product. As time goes on, if all people abandoned factory farm products, the cost would be lower. (Webster F, 1994, p. 268-269)

Overall society must recognises it own responsibilities to respect the rights of all living creatures no matter their position on the food chain. A quote from Jeremy Bentham

Analysis of Artefact and Learning Reflections


The artefact used in my wiki is, I believe, a fantastic way to illustrate the way meat makes it's way to our plates. The way today society is constructed there is a large separation between where our meat comes from and the product we buy, so much so it is common for people to deliberately choose to be ignorant to the idea when presented with the information and continue supporting an industry based on profit rather than rights. Personally I was unaware of these issues before my previous assignment, I too believed that it was better not knowing where the meat came from and that there were bigger issues facing today's world then the plight of chicken. Now I have seen and learnt about the unnecessary pain and cruelty inflicted on these animals it is clear to me that we should care. As someone who chooses to consume meat products I am ethically and morally responsible for who I choose to support and how that animal was cared for before slaughter. After all the research I have done I now see that the industry as it cannot continue the way it is, not only are the animals suffering but the exposure of risk for human health is high as well as the strain on our environment. I now will make a conscious decision of where I purchase products from and what it means when I do.

Learning and Engagement Reflection Task:


Comment One:
http://healthcultureandsociety2013.wikispaces.com/share/view/64686704

Comment Two:
http://healthcultureandsociety2013.wikispaces.com/share/view/64697020

Reference List:


Australian Meat Industry Council. (2011). AMIC Q & A:
Animal Welfare practices in the Australian processing industry. Retrieved, October 7, 2013 from <http://www.amic.org.au/content_common/pg-q-and-a-animal-welfare-practices-in-the-australian-processing-industry.seo>

Australian Government. (2011). Australian Farms and Framing Communities. Retrieved, October 5, 2013 from <http://australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/austn-farms-and-farming-communities>

Deckers, J. (2013). Obesity, Public Health and the Consumption of Animal Products. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 10, 29-38. doi: 10.1007/s11673-012-9411-x

Pulhar, E, B. (2010). Meat and Morality: Alternatives to Factory Farming. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 23, 455-468. doi: 10.1007/s10806-009-9226-x

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. (2013). Eating for your Health. Retrieved, October 31st 2013, from <http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/eating-for-health.aspx>

Voiceless. (2012). Battery Hens. Retrieved, October 7, 2013 from <http://www.voiceless.org.au/the-issues/battery-hens>

Webster, F A. J. (1994). Meat and right: the ethical dilemma. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society , 53 (2), 263.