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Dr. Oz spotlights processed chicken dangers and Alicia Silverstone's vegan diet

Dr. Oz: Chicken dangers, safety tips and Alicia Silverstone's vegan diet
Screengrab from Fox TV

Dr. Mehmet Oz discussed the dangers of processed chicken and talked to actress Alicia Silverstone about her vegan diet on the July 8 episode of the Dr. Oz Show.

Dr. Oz's guest was investigative reporter Christopher Leonard, who went undercover at a chicken processing plant to see how poultry is handled. The findings were alarming.

Leonard said chickens are bathed in harsh, powerful chemicals, including peracetic acid and liquid chlorine, to remove germs and other bacteria.

Unfortunately, these chemicals can damage internal organs and raise your risk of cancer if ingested in large amounts. Because processed chickens go through several washes, there's no way to tell how much of these chemicals remain behind that on the poultry you wind up eating for lunch or dinner.

Another concern is that because chickens are processed quickly at very high volumes, drug-resistant fecal bacteria sometimes remain on the poultry, according to a study by Consumer Reports. Consumer Reports collected chicken samples from various grocery stores in July 2013, and found salmonella in one batch.

Symptoms of salmonella include violent vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and in some cases, can cause death. Dr. Oz said the FDA is supposed to oversee chicken processing plants, but the quality control is often left in the hands of the meat processing companies themselves.

To protect yourself from getting infected with tainted chicken, Dr. Oz recommended wrapping your chicken in a separate bag to prevent it from contaminating other food, and to always cook chicken to at least 165 degrees to kill germs and bacteria.

Alicia Silverstone Went Vegan For Weight Loss and Love of Animals

On a separate segment, Dr. Oz's guest was actress Alicia Silverstone, who said she transformed her health and experienced natural weight loss after adopting a vegan diet in 1998, at the age of 21.

Silverstone, who had struggled with weight for years, said she switched to a vegan diet after seeing a documentary about how factory-farmed animals were raised and slaughtered. Alicia was heartbroken by the cruel treatment of animals raised for food, and immediately went vegan.

While Alicia's love of animals was the original driver for her dietary change, she stayed vegan after finding it improved her sleep, helped her lose weight, and eliminated her nagging asthma.

"I used to have all those white marks on my nails and they were very brittle, and now they're so strong I can't bend them," said Silverstone. "I feel like I look less puffy."

Silverstone said she is also raising her son, Bear Blu (born in 2011), on a vegan diet. When people ask what she feeds him, Alicia said he gets lots of organic vegetables and fruits, brown rice sushi, and almond butter. Silverstone said all vegans should supplement with vitamin B12 and she plans to do so with her son when she stops breastfeeding.

Other celebrity vegans include Samuel L. Jackson, who credits the vegan diet for his 40-pound weight loss and its anti-aging benefits, and Jessica Simpson, who followed vegan diet for two weeks to accelerate her wedding weight loss. Jessica has lost 70 pounds during the past year.

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