Fecal Bacteria

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Salmonella causes a million cases of food poisoning each year and is the result of fecal matter contamination in chicken processing plants. Just handling chicken can lead to exposure to antibiotic resistant E. coli, which may result in bladder infections in women. Listeria is the third most common bacterial infection related to food and is found commonly in the meat supply. The phosphorus preservatives injected into poultry may not just be an arterial toxin, but may also increase the growth of Campylobacter bacteria. In 200 pork samples, more than 2/3 were contaminated with antibiotic resistant Yersinia. A representative from the USDA’s meat inspection program said pig processing lines move so quickly that “Tremendous amounts of fecal matter remain on the carcasses… not small bits, but chunks.”  C. diff. (a superbug) might not only contamination meat via fecal contamination, but may transfer spores from the gut into the muscles (meat) of the animal.

In Supreme Beef vs. USDA, a federal appeals court found it was not illegal to sell contaminated meat, as cooking the meat kills the bacteria. Particularly in the case of poultry, cooking the meat may kill the bacteria, but there is a large risk of cross contamination in the preparation of the poultry.  Those who eat meat risk food poisoning from undercooked meat, but also exposure to cooked meat carcinogens in well-cooked meat.

The “meat glue” enzyme, transglutaminase, is widely used in the US and may increase E. Coli contamination. The foreign meat molecule, Neu5Gc, may not only contribute to the progression of cancer and heart disease, but can set children up for life-threatening reactions to E. Coli toxins.

Organic produce may be contaminated with fecal pathogens due to noroviruses linked to produce from the use of pesticides in water sprayed on crops contaminated with fecal matter.

Topic summary contributed by Mary.


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