97% of chicken tested positive for harmful bacteria, 50% for fecal matter

Consumer Reports reports that 97% of all chickens they tested, nationwide, harbored dangerous bacteria, and some included antibiotic-resistant bacteria that’s particularly deadly.

Adding to the fun, Consumer Reports also found that nearly half the chicken tested had fecal matter on it.

Now, they do say that it’s not a surprise that chicken has bacteria on it.  Even the organic chicken they tested had bacteria.  This is why the powers that be are so insistent that you cook chicken to an appropriate internal temperature of 165 degrees fahrenheit and that you use a special cutting board for chicken, so the blood/juices don’t infect your other food (e.g., cut vegetables) that you might not heat.

Consumer Reports warns that simply opening a package of raw chicken and then touching the counter, or faucet, with your hand can be enough to cause trouble – the bacteria can live for hours, or even days.  So you end up touching the faucet some time later, not thinking that you’ve just contaminated yourself, and touch your eye, mouth etc.

But one of the things that was particularly troubling is that at least half of the chicken samples tested positive for one of the new drug-resistant bacteria.  If you catch one of those, you could be in trouble.

What’s really scary is the figure that 80% of the antibiotics sold in America are for animals.  And what’s really sick, since the 1940s they’ve been giving chickens low levels of antibiotics because it makes them grow faster!  Not because they’re sick – simply because someone figured out the chickens grow faster and bigger this way.  Nice.


Oh and it gets even better:

A new USDA rule currently under consideration could make many changes in poultry production that food-safety advocates consider alarming and dangerous. It could increase the maximum line speeds at slaughter plants to 175 chickens a minute from the current maximum of 140 birds a minute. The new rule could also reassign some of the USDA inspectors’ duties to plant employees. Unlike federal inspectors, the plant employees are paid by the company, so they would have an incentive to overlook problems that might slow the lines down.

The rule would transfer more responsibility for safety to the companies that produce the chickens, allowing them to police themselves, says Tony Corbo, senior lobbyist at Food & Water Watch, a nonprofit group.

The USDA disputes the notion that the proposed new rule would have an impact on safety. And according to Dan Engeljohn, Ph.D., of the USDA, a government inspector would still be able to stop a line “if he has evidence to believe that the plant is not exercising good process control.”

As of July 2013 a pilot project was being tested in 24 poultry plants. The chicken industry considers the test, called the HIMP (for HACCP-Based Inspection Models Project), a success, and backs the proposal to adopt the new rule. But the Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit whistle-­blower group, has released affidavits from federal inspectors working at HIMP plants, which allege that they were pressured to overlook possible food-safety concerns to keep the lines running.

And as I’d written about earlier, a lot of our chicken is now going to be processed in China, home of the exploding watermelon and the deadly dog food.  What could possibly go wrong?

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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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