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The Physicians Committee

NEWS RELEASE August 27, 2001

Doctors Petition Feds to Protect Public from Feces on Poultry and Meat

Study Shows Americans Are Clueless about Meat Safety; Nonprofit Unveils Proposed Biohazard Label

WASHINGTON—In a petition to be filed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Aug. 29, 2001, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) calls on the USDA to declare feces an adulterant in poultry and meat products rendering them unfit for sale. PCRM's petition also calls for all poultry and meat to carry a biohazard label warning consumers that these products are likely to be contaminated with feces and, therefore, foodborne pathogens. Current factory farming practices provide ideal conditions for the spread of the deadly E. coli O157:H7, salmonella, and other disease-causing bacteria through feces.

"The USDA needs to strengthen regulations and warn consumers that poultry and meat often have traces of feces on them," states Mindy Kursban, PCRM's staff attorney. "Under current regulations, people can become ill and even die from eating poultry and meat that passed USDA's inspection because the current inspection system is too weak to protect consumers."

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that each year there are at least 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths caused by foodborne pathogens. The consumption of poultry and meat contaminated with feces is the primary vehicle for transmitting foodborne diseases to humans. PCRM is also releasing the results of a new survey of 1,000 adults conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation at the request of PCRM. The survey shows that 84 percent of Americans do not know that feces are the originating source of foodborne pathogens.

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.

Media Contact:
Jeanne S. McVey

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