The inaugural Chicken Media Summit, sponsored by the National Chicken Council and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association (USPOULTRY), was held this week in New Bern and Kinston, North Carolina. The summit brought together 30 members from national and local media covering business, meat and poultry trade, food, food safety, and agricultural and farming news. Representatives from Bloomberg, The New York Times, WebMD, National Public Radio, Better Homes & Garden, and Family Circle, among others, saw firsthand the entire process, from egg to fork, about how chickens are hatched, raised, and processed for food. The group toured a Sanderson Farms hatchery, processing plant, and wastewater treatment plant, as well as a farm and chicken houses.
In addition to the Sanderson Farms tours, several informational sessions were held for members of the media at the Doubletree headquarter hotel in New Bern including the keynote address entitled “Enriching People’s Lives: A 2013 Report on the Importance of Animal Source Foods” presented by Dr. William Weldon, vice president, global research and development, Elanco Animal Health and Dr. Susan Finn, president and CEO of the American Council for Fitness & Nutrition.
Drs. Weldon and Finn discussed the far-reaching ramifications of food security for health, productivity, and quality of life at the individual, community, and global levels. As societies emerge from poverty, consumption of animal source foods increase. In those communities, consuming meat, milk, and eggs provide nutrients critical for brain and muscle development and disease prevention. In developed countries, where obesity is an issue, animal source foods offer a healthy alternative to less nutrient-dense choices. In both settings, animal source foods help improve health and productivity, ultimately enriching people’s lives, Drs. Weldon and Finn said.
A panel discussion led by USPOULTRY President John Starkey discussed issues currently in the news including poultry welfare, modernization of poultry inspection, the meaning of chicken labels, and the role of veterinarians in modern poultry companies.
A panel discussion of poultry company executives was also part of the summit program and included Lampkin Butts, president and CEO of Sanderson Farms; Bill Lovette, president and CEO, Pilgrim’s Pride; and Jim Perdue, chairman of the board, Perdue Farms. Bill Roenigk, NCC senior vice president, moderated this informative panel discussion.
Summit participants were also treated to a number of social functions, including a dinner at the North Carolina History Center, lunch at the Chef and the Farmer restaurant serving modern Southern cuisine by James Beard semi-finalist Chef Vivian Howard, and lunch at the Neuse River waterfront restaurant Persimmons.