Quantcast

America's Favorite Meat Is Also One of Its Most Lethal Commodities

Food

Grocery shoppers probably assume the food on display is safe to take home, but in the poultry aisle, that simple assumption could lead people directly into the emergency room.

"More deaths were attributed to poultry than to any other commodity," according to an analysis of outbreaks from 1998 through 2008 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Consumer Reports' recent analysis of more than 300 raw chicken breasts purchased at stores across the U.S. found potentially harmful bacteria in 97 percent of the chicken, including organic brands.

Consumer Reports' findings were set in motion after the national salmonella outbreak that were linked to three Foster Farms chicken plants. In that case 389 people were infected, and 40 percent of them were hospitalized—double the usual percentage in most outbreaks linked to salmonella, reports the Organic Consumers Association (OCA).

Forty-eight million people fall sick every year from eating food tainted with salmonella, campylobacter, E. coli and other contaminants, and "more deaths were attributed to poultry than to any other commodity," according to an analysis of outbreaks from 1998 through 2008 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Despite the data, chicken remains America's favorite meat with 83 pounds being purchased per capita annually.

Here's what you should know before buying your next package of chicken, according to OCA:

  • It's unrealistic to expect the uncooked chicken one buys won't contain any potentially harmful bacteria. That's one reason shoppers are advised to prevent raw chicken or its juices from touching any other food and to cook it to at least 165°F. Yet some bacteria are more worrisome than others as OCA's latest tests produced troubling findings. More than half of the samples contained fecal contaminants, with about half of them harboring at least one bacterium that was resistant to three or more commonly prescribed antibiotics.

  • Public health officials say the resistance to antibiotics is a major concern and in September the CDC released a landmark report outlining the dire threat it poses to one's health. Antibiotic-­resistant infections are linked to at least 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. If antibiotic-­resistant bacteria continue their spread, it could lead to deadly infections after routine surgery or even a seemingly innocuous cut because the drugs that doctors prescribe will have lost their effectiveness.

  • Further OCA tests showed that resistant bacteria are commonly found in chicken at your local grocery store, like the salmonella strains found during the Foster Farms outbreak. 

Refer to the Consumer Reports video below for additional coverage on the issue:

Visit EcoWatch’s FOOD and HEALTH pages for more related news on this topic.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Juvenile hatchery salmon flushed from a tanker truck in San Francisco Bay, California. Ben Moon

That salmon sitting in your neighborhood grocery store's fish counter won't look the same to you after watching Artifishal, a new film from Patagonia.

Read More Show Less
Natdanai Pankong / EyeEm / Getty Images

By Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD

Coconut meat is the white flesh inside a coconut.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Arx0nt / Moment / Getty Images

By Taylor Jones, RD

Oats are a highly nutritious grain with many health benefits.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

Get ready to toast bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. National Pollinator Week is June 17-23 and it's a perfect time to celebrate the birds, bugs and lizards that are so essential to the crops we grow, the flowers we smell, and the plants that produce the air we breathe.

Read More Show Less
Alexander Spatari / Moment / Getty Images

It seems like every day a new diet is declared the healthiest — paleo, ketogenic, Atkins, to name a few — while government agencies regularly release their own recommended dietary guidelines. But there may not be an ideal one-size-fits-all diet, according to a new study.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Logging shown as part of a thinning and restoration effort in the Deschutes National Forest in Oregon on Oct. 22, 2014. Oregon Department of Forestry / CC BY 2.0

The U.S Forest Service unveiled a new plan to skirt a major environmental law that requires extensive review for new logging, road building, and mining projects on its nearly 200 million acres of public land. The proposal set off alarm bells for environmental groups, according to Reuters.

Read More Show Less
Maskot / Getty Images

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

It's easy to wonder which foods are healthiest.

Read More Show Less
Homes in Washington, DC's Brookland neighborhood were condemned to clear room for a highway in the 1960s. The community fought back. Brig Cabe / DC Public Library

By Teju Adisa-Farrar & Raul Garcia

In the summer of 1969 a banner hung over a set of condemned homes in what was then the predominantly black and brown Brookland neighborhood in Washington, DC. It read, "White man's roads through black men's homes."

Earlier in the year, the District attempted to condemn the houses to make space for a proposed freeway. The plans proposed a 10-lane freeway, a behemoth of a project that would divide the nation's capital end-to-end and sever iconic Black neighborhoods like Shaw and the U Street Corridor from the rest of the city.

Read More Show Less