The kampong chicken factoryJune 3, 2007
What do you understand by “kapong chicken”?
If, like me, you believe it refers to chickens that roam about freely in kampongs (villages) – that is, the local equivalent of free-range, more or less organic, chicken –as opposed to those kept in cages in factory farms, well, you will be in for a disappointment and a shock.
According to more than one kampong chicken seller at the wet markets whom I have spoken to, there are at least two types of kampong chicken – the “real” type and the “fake” type.
The real type costs about $8.50 to $9 per kg and is a much bigger bird, so you will have to end up paying maybe $15 or more for a chicken. At the Ang Mo Kio Ave 4 market that I sometimes go to, this is called “mountain chicken”.
The one that generally sells for $5.50 per bird, in wet markets and supermarkets, is the fake type. These chickens are reared in cages in factory farms, where up to tens of thousands of chickens are confined in a covered shed. They do not get exercise or sunlight. Presumably, they are also regularly given antibiotics, because chickens raised under such conditions cannot be allowed to get sick. If one does, the sickness will quickly spread to the rest of the factory farm and tens of thousands of chickens will be destroyed.
So why are these “fake” kampong chickens called kampong chickens?
“They are the same species as kampong chicken,” the chicken seller at the market explained.
And so we have another case of misleading food labelling / food description that our health authorities seem to allow.