7 Alarming Chicken Wing Facts

Published by Katherine Sullivan.

In 2020, Americans consumed roughly 1.4 billion chicken wings during Super Bowl LIV—that’s 175 million pounds of wings, or approximately 350 million chickens killed. Before you place your Buffalo Wild Wings order or google the best recipes, take a moment to learn a few things about the body parts that you’re considering putting into your own body.

1. If you’re eating chicken, you’re eating poop.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study found that more than 99 percent of chicken carcasses sold in stores had detectable levels of E. coli, indicating fecal contamination. That means that you’re almost guaranteed to be ingesting actual poop every time you chow down on a dead chicken. Not convinced? In March 2013, Foster Farms was forced to recall chicken products that were linked to an outbreak of an antibiotic-resistant strain of salmonella, which had been making people sick for more than a year. According to a Washington Post article, inspection reports from the USDA include …

“… descriptions of mold growth, cockroaches, an instance of pooling caused by a skin-clogged floor drain, fecal matter and ‘Unidentified Foreign Material’ (which has its own acronym, UFM) on chicken carcasses, failure to implement required tests and sampling, metal pieces found in carcasses, and many more.”

© iStock.com/tawatchaiprakobkit

2. Speaking of poop …

Raising 9 billion chickens for meat on factory farms each year produces enormous amounts of excrement. Peter Cheeke, a professor emeritus at Oregon State University, says that factory farming amounts to “a frontal assault on the environment” and causes widespread pollution of land and water with fecal matter. Because chickens are often fed massive amounts of antibiotics and additives, certain chemicals are also found in high concentrations in their feces, which means that fecal pollution from chicken farms is disastrous for the environment. In Maryland and West Virginia, for example, scientists discovered that male fish are developing ovaries, and they suspect that the animals’ freakish deformities are the result of ingesting runoff from drug-laden chicken feces.

3. And speaking of antibiotics and additives …

Chickens raised for their flesh are often packed by the thousands into massive sheds and fed large quantities of antibiotics and drugs to keep them alive in conditions that would otherwise kill them. This reckless use of antibiotics makes drugs less effective for treating human health conditions, as it speeds up the development of drug-resistant bacteria.

battery cage chickenMercy for Animals

4. The NFL players aren’t the only ones being played.

If you’re planning to serve boneless chicken wings, be aware that you’re not actually offering your guests wings. According to The New York Times, “Boneless wings, increasingly promoted by restaurants, are not wings at all, but slices of breast meat deep-fried like wings and served with the same sauces—a bit like a spicy Chicken McNugget.”

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5. So you’re an NFL fan? Learn from Jared Cook‘s disturbing discovery!

On October 4, 2016, Jared Cook—a tight end for the Green Bay Packers—made an alarming discovery when he dug into his takeout chicken wings from Buffalo Wild Wings: a fried chicken head. The NFL player is reportedly considering adopting a vegetarian diet since the incident.

6. A farmed chicken’s life is not a life worth living.

More chickens are raised and killed for food than all other land animals combined. Birds raised for their flesh are bred to grow so large so fast that some have difficulty even walking under their body’s unnatural weight. Many are never allowed to go outside or do any of the things that are natural and important to them, such as establishing a pecking order and nesting comfortably.

© iStock.com/sansubba

7. There’s nothing “humane” about American Humane Certified farms.

Only seven weeks after they hatch, chickens are crowded onto trucks that transport them to the slaughterhouse. Once there, they’re shackled upside down by their legs, their throats are slit while they’re still conscious, and many are scalded to death.


Convinced that you should sack the wings but still unsure how you and your guests will make it through this year’s championship game without your favorite Super Bowl snack? Luckily for you, our playbook is full of delicious chicken-free options guaranteed to score you a few game-day points! Take a look at our favorite store-bought vegan chicken wing options and get more ideas from these delicious wing-inspired vegan dishes:

Bulan Thai Vegetarian Kitchen Hot Wings

Cauliflower Buffalo Wings

Screamer’s Pizzeria Buffalo Cauliflower Pie

Veggie Grill Buffalo Wing Wrap

Veggie Grill Buffalo Wings

Veggie Grill B-Wing Salad

Want more options? Check out our list of the Top 10 Vegan Wings to find out whether one of these restaurants is near you.

Top 10 Vegan Wings

Why not go for the extra point and make your entire party vegan and animal-friendly? We’ve made it easy with a list of 50 vegan game-day appetizers and treats!

Game-Day Appetizers and Treats

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind