Legal counsel Mark Kennedy, Esq., reviewing documents outside of USDA offices.
“Warning! May contain feces.” It’s been more than a year since the Physicians Committee petitioned the USDA to require this label on chicken products. But last week, Physicians Committee director of legal affairs Mark Kennedy, Esq., finally sat down with more than a dozen USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) officials.
Fecal contamination in chicken is an ever-growing issue. Physicians Committee studies have found that a vast amount of chicken is contaminated with fecal matter. And it gets worse—according to a Consumer Reports study, 97 percent of raw chicken in U.S. supermarkets is contaminated with bacteria that could make customers sick.
Following the meeting, FSIS officials are now reviewing the Physicians Committee petition to the USDA requesting that feces be labeled and regulated as an “adulterant.” However, officials stated that they rarely grant petitions unless there is significant pressure to do so.
Help us get the word out about the prevalence of fecal contamination in chicken! Share this blog with your family and friends—and you can even tweet to the @USDA with a link to our petition: http://goo.gl/2L8KXA.
Ninety-seven percent of raw chicken in U.S. supermarkets is contaminated with bacteria that could make you sick, according to a new Consumer Reports study. That’s important to remember. But it’s a bit like saying 97 percent of cigarettes could give you bad breath. Compared to the numerous other negative health impacts of eating chicken, food poisoning might actually be the least of your worries.
Foodborne illnesses are a serious threat to public health—taking the lives of about 3,000 Americans annually—and the poultry industry has no excuse for selling bacteria-laden meat. But contaminated or not, chicken is not safe to eat—it never has been.
Many people are surprised to learn that chicken is one of the top sources of saturated fat and the second leading source of cholesterol in the American diet. In these respects, it ranks right up there with burgers, bacon, and beef. Diets high in saturated fat and cholesterol lead to blocked arteries, stroke, and heart attack. Heart disease remains the number one cause of death in the United States and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is responsible for one out of every four deaths.
A passion for poultry also puts Americans at higher risk of obesity, diabetes, and cancer. Chicken is the leading source of HCAs—heterocyclic amines—which are cancer-causing chemicals that form as meat—especially chicken—is cooked.
It’s time we started recognizing these diet-related conditions as the other foodborne illnesses… and tracing them back to chicken.
A total of 30 people in 19 states have been infected with salmonella in recent days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The finger is being pointed at peanut butter, specifically from New Mexico nut producer Sunland Inc.
But wait a minute.
Salmonella are intestinal bacteria. And one of the nicest features about peanuts is the fact that they have no intestine. So where are the bugs coming from? Salmonella, like E. coli, are usually transmitted to humans in traces of animal feces that contaminate hands, food-preparation surfaces, and other foods handled in the same area. So the original source of salmonella is a farm raising chickens, cows, or other animals. And peanuts are an innocent bystander.
Widespread use of antibiotics in livestock operations can give rise to resistant bacteria such as salmonella. Through contact with farm workers and contaminated waste runoff, resistant bacteria can spread to humans and to other animals, as well as kitchen counters and grocery store shelves. Bacteria can also transfer resistance traits to other strains and classes of bacteria.
Salmonella and other foodborne outbreaks caused by the meat industry have become dangerous trend. A 2011 independent survey of foodborne illness due to antimicrobial-resistant bacteria found the number of outbreaks has increased each year since 1970, and 40 percent of outbreaks occurred between 2000 and 2010. The resistant bacteria responsible were mostly strains of salmonellae—28 of 35 outbreaks. These outbreaks were responsible for 19,897 infections, which lead to 3,061 hospitalizations and 26 deaths.
Following a plant-based diet reduces the number of animals on farms, thereby reducing the threat of foodborne illness. Vegetarian diets also help lower the risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses.