Transcript: Chicken Salmonella Thanks to Meat Industry Lawsuit
Mexico banned the importation of Foster Farms chicken on public health grounds, but it’s still sold in the United States. Why wasn't there a recall? How could they continue to legally sell chicken contaminated with this virulent strain of Salmonella? It all goes back to Supreme Beef versus USDA, a court case in which the meat industry sued the USDA after they had the audacity to try to shut down a slaughter plant that was repeatedly found violating Salmonella standards. The meat industry won. The Federal Appeals Court ruled that it wasn't illegal to sell contaminated meat, what was illegal was the USDA trying to protect the public by shutting down the plant. Because normal cooking practices destroy Salmonella, the presence of Salmonella in meat does not render them "injurious to health." Salmonella-infected meat is thus legal to sell to the consumer.
Even though consumers may eliminate Salmonella on ready-to-cook chicken by proper cooking, they could still be exposed to and acquire a Salmonella infection from cross-contamination of other foods with Salmonella from raw chicken during meal preparation. If you measure the transfer rate from naturally contaminated poultry legs purchased in supermarkets to cutting boards in the kitchen, overall, 80% of the leg skins in contact with the cutting board for 10 minutes transferred Campylobacter infection to the cutting board. That’s another dangerous bacteria found in chicken feces. And then if you put cooked chicken back on that same cutting board, there’s about a 30% chance it too will become contaminated.
Even though people know that washing hands can decrease the risk of food poisoning, only about two-thirds say they actually do it. Even though most people know about cross-contamination, a third don’t even say they wash their cutting boards. Though awareness appears to be growing, as we saw before even when people wash the cutting boards with hot soapy water you can still find Salmonella and Campylobacter. The reason most people have more bacteria from feces in their kitchen than their bathroom, is because people rinse their chickens in the sink, not the toilet. So even though cooking can kill Salmonella, it can still contaminate our kitchen and make us sick.
Foster Farms swore they’d try to reduce the number of chickens they were producing with this virulent strain of Salmonella from 1 in 4 to just 1 in 20. Why not zero tolerance like they have in countries like Sweden?
Because then, as the head of food safety for Costco noted, “you wouldn't have a poultry industry.”
Other countries have been able to raise chickens without Salmonella. One industry-funded scientist explained that if the entire onus to produce safe products is placed on industry, "It then gives the consumer no personal responsibility to handle their product correctly.” What? That’s like a car company saying we can’t make safe cars because then no one will wear a seat belt.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Ariel Levitsky.
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