The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
America's Favorite Meat Is Also One of Its Most Lethal Commodities
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.
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:
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Bijal Trivedi
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on Nov. 13 that describes a list of microorganisms that have become resistant to antibiotics and pose a serious threat to public health. Each year these so-called superbugs cause more than 2.8 million infections in the U.S. and kill more than 35,000 people.
By Joe Vukovich
Under the guise of responding to consumer complaints that today's energy- and water-efficient dishwashers take too long, the Department of Energy has proposed creating a new class of dishwashers that wouldn't be subject to any water or energy efficiency standards at all. The move would not only undermine three decades of progress for consumers and the environment, it is based on serious distortions of fact regarding today's dishwashers.
By Emily Moran
If you have oak trees in your neighborhood, perhaps you've noticed that some years the ground is carpeted with their acorns, and some years there are hardly any. Biologists call this pattern, in which all the oak trees for miles around make either lots of acorns or almost none, "masting."
By Catherine Davidson
Tashi Yudon peeks out from behind a net curtain at the rooftops below and lets out a sigh, her breath frosting on the windowpane in front of her.
Some 700 kilometers away in the capital city Delhi, temperatures have yet to dip below 25 degrees Celsius, but in Spiti there is already an atmosphere of impatient expectation as winter settles over the valley.