Survey Finds Most Chickens Sold by Seattle Groceries are Contaminated

Tests just confirmed that about 80 percent of all whole chicken sold in Seattle groceries are contaminated with dangerous f<"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/food_poisoning">oodborne pathogens such as Salmonella and campylobacter, wrote the Seattle Times. The tests found the same likelihood in organic and nonorganic chickens.

One hundred chickens were purchased and tested in March; 80 were contaminated with bacteria and 10 percent tested positive for antibiotic-resistant staphylococcus, the bacteria linked to many hospital infection outbreaks, said the Seattle Times. Interestingly, recent tests found that one chicken was contaminated with an E. coli strain typically found in beef: E. coli 026.

Test results mirrored other tests conducted nationwide, including one on which we just wrote in which very high rates of drug-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus were found in meat and poultry in United States grocery stores, according to a nationwide study conducted by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen). S. aureus had been linked with a broad number of diseases in humans.

A 2010 Consumer Reports study also revealed that 2/3rds of whole chickens purchased nationwide were tainted with Salmonella or campylobacter, said the Seattle Times. A spokesman for the National Chicken Council said while industry has done an “excellent job” … “chicken is raw, and it does need to be handled and cooked in the normal and customary manner,” said Richard Lobb, quoted the Seattle Times.

In March, we wrote that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced its July 2011 implementation of revised and new performance standards to minimize food poisoning risks from pathogens such as Salmonella and Campylobacter in young chickens and turkeys.

According to the Seattle Times, the chickens just tested would not have “collectively” passed, with 65 percent contaminated with campylobacter and 19 percent with Salmonella; over 40 percent were contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus, a pathogen not regulated by the agency. The Seattle Times noted that the total percentage exceeded 100 percent because most chickens tested positive for multiple pathogens; bacteria was from fecal contamination, a common problem in crowded slaughterhouses, noted the Seattle Times.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates, about one in six Americans falls ill annually due to foodborne pathogens that lead to 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths, noted the Seattle times. In the U.S., Salmonella and Campylobacter are among the top two culprits.

Salmonella infection can lead to long-term and serious adverse health effects, such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and a form of reactive arthritis called Reiter’s Syndrome, which typically affects large weight-bearing joints such as the knees and the lower back. Campylobacter infections can also lead to Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a potentially paralyzing illness that can leave victims with mild to severe neurological damage, as well as meningitis. Both infections can be found in raw or undercooked poultry, among other foods. Staph is typically killed off when foods are cooked properly; however, cross-contamination in the kitchen could pass the deadly germ.

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