Chicken Salmonella Thanks to Meat Industry Lawsuit

Chicken Salmonella Thanks to Meat Industry Lawsuit
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The meat industry sued the federal government, winning the right to sell food known to be contaminated with food-poisoning bacteria.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

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 a virulent strain of salmonella? It all goes back to Supreme Beef vs. USDA, a court case in which the meat industry sued the USDA after the agency 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 was not illegal to sell contaminated meat; in fact, what was illegal was the USDA trying to protect the public by shutting down the plant. “[B]ecause normal cooking practices…destroy…Salmonella…,…the presence of Salmonella in meat products does not render them ‘injurious to health.’ Salmonella-infected [meat] is thus…legal to sell to the consumer.”

But, “even though consumers [can] eliminate Salmonella on…chicken by proper cooking,” we can “still be exposed to and acquire a Salmonella infection from cross-contamination…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 min” transferred campylobacter infection to the cutting board. (That’s another food-poisoning bacteria found in chicken feces.) And then, if you put cooked chicken back on the same cutting board, there’s about a 30% chance it will become re-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 report washing 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 in 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 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, though. But as one industry-funded scientist explained, 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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

 

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

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 a virulent strain of salmonella? It all goes back to Supreme Beef vs. USDA, a court case in which the meat industry sued the USDA after the agency 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 was not illegal to sell contaminated meat; in fact, what was illegal was the USDA trying to protect the public by shutting down the plant. “[B]ecause normal cooking practices…destroy…Salmonella…,…the presence of Salmonella in meat products does not render them ‘injurious to health.’ Salmonella-infected [meat] is thus…legal to sell to the consumer.”

But, “even though consumers [can] eliminate Salmonella on…chicken by proper cooking,” we can “still be exposed to and acquire a Salmonella infection from cross-contamination…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 min” transferred campylobacter infection to the cutting board. (That’s another food-poisoning bacteria found in chicken feces.) And then, if you put cooked chicken back on the same cutting board, there’s about a 30% chance it will become re-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 report washing 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 in 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 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, though. But as one industry-funded scientist explained, 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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

 

Image thanks to CDC- Debora Cartagena

Doctor's Note

I’ve touched on this before in Salmonella in Chicken & Turkey: Deadly but Not Illegal, Zero Tolerance to Acceptable Risk, and Unsafe at Any Feed. For more on the Foster Farms outbreak, see Foster Farms Responds to Chicken Salmonella Outbreaks.

More on the issue of cross-contamination in:

Note that when it comes to egg-borne infection, the issue is not just cross-contamination, given salmonella can survive the most common egg-cooking methods. Check out Total Recall.

Though some meat additives may make meat safer (see Viral Meat Spray and Maggot Meat Spray), others may increase the food safety risk. See Phosphate Additives in Chicken. In Who Determines if Food Additives are Safe?, I explore how it is that harmful additives can end up on store shelves.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

31 responses to “Chicken Salmonella Thanks to Meat Industry Lawsuit

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  1. Dr. Greger, how about the cultured soy food Natto? Is this healthy or does it fall into the “don’t eat” category of kimchi? Also, is the science convincing that Natto is healthy? Any possible side effects of thinning the blood too much, preventing proper blood clotting? Thank you.

        1. Not since January 2010. But I’ll try the few vegan options when accompanying family to a sushi restaurant. My favorite at a local place with a vegetarian menu is the “Teardrop Roll” made with real Wasabia japonica.

          Sushi refers to the vinegar & sugar seasoned rice, sashimi is the raw fish often included.

            1. Actually, a DHA/EPA supplement. As I’m not an infant, pregnant or nursing, the DHA is less important to me than achieving as high a ratio of EPA to arachidonic acid as feasible. I think the EPA helps reduce inflammatory signalling in the context of a low fat, low (or no) animal product diet, but I’m not surprised low-dose fish-oil supplementation has limited effects in the context of high fat and high arachidonic acid Western diets.

              1. Is your supplement an algae DHA/EPA or is it fish oil derived? Thank you much. I value your insight and choices on these and other vegan concerns.

              2. I’m agree with you on the EPA importance. I have been looking for a vegan supplement with more EPA in it than DHA, but no luck. I hear that more EPA than DHA can be better, for certain issues, but if too high DHA to EPA, things can get messed up.

                1. There’s interconversion in vivo of the two long-chain n-3 fatty acids, though I don’t know how effective it is. There’s one major algal LCPUFA supplier at present (all the vegan brands are rebranding), and their most cost effective supplement is 130 mg EPA and 300 mg DHA per capsule. That ratio, though perhaps not absolute quantities, is common to all the algal EPA+DHA supplements.

  2. Why am I not surprised by this? For better and often for worse, the US allegedly protects the “freedom to” instead of the “freedom from”. That is until it hits big corporations in the pocket.

  3. Why does fact always have to be more shocking than fiction!

    It never ceases to amaze me at how the meat and dairy industries can turn a blind eye to the problems they cause. Really? Would they say and do ludicrous things like this to their own children?

  4. I didn’t see anything in the video about kimchi. Why would kimchi be considered a “don’t eat” food?We eat it regularly. Does this mean we are also supposed to stop eating sauerkraut and fermented vegetables in general? I thought they were about the healthiest thing to eat.
    John S
    PDX OR

    1. Dr. Greger has a video and in it he says that kimchi is not safe to consume. I think he feels it causes and or is associated with developing cancer. As far Natto, I do not know. My concern with natto is that it might do both good and bad, as far as fibrin.

  5. Thanks for helping me find the video Leslie. Since these are the only two studies I’ve heard of, and no other health doctor I’ve ever heard of has warned against kimchi, I’m going to take it with a grain of salt. I would love to see follow up studies. For example, kim chi has tons of red chilis in it. Is that large amount of chilis causing the gastric cancer? We don’t know.

    1. Dr. Greger seemed not to waver on this. Very clear on it. And others here seem to believe his conviction. I really think something in the data convinced him that kimchi is/can be harmful, even in moderation.

    2. Reason behind Kimchi causing cancers:
      Exerpt from Gastric Cancer Epidemiology (Link at end of post)

      It appears it’s not the cabbage that is the problem, it’s the salt that the cabbage comes in that is the problem.

      “1) Salt or salted food

      The average daily salt intake in the Korean population was 13.4 g in 2005,(23) whereas the daily intake recommended by the World Health Organization is less than 5 g.(24) Ingestion of salt directly damages the stomach lining, enhancing the carcinogenic effects of gastric carcinogens, increasing nitroso compound formation, and facilitating H. pylori infection.(25) An ecological study on the association between sodium intake evaluated by 24-hour urine collection and gastric cancer mortality and incidence in four areas of Korea suggested a positive correlation between sodium intake and gastric cancer incidence and mortality.(26) A salt preference showed a 1.1-fold increased risk for gastric cancer in a cohort study of 2,248,129 subjects.(27)

      “Kimchi, which is allegedly believed to have anti-carcinogenic properties, accounts for approximately 20% of sodium intake.(23) Case-control studies on the intake level of kimchi and gastric cancer risk generally showed an increased risk among subjects with high or frequent intakes of kimchi.(28-30) In addition, a high intake of soybean paste (28) or frequent intake of soybean paste stew (31) increased the risk of gastric cancer.”

      And this last statement on soy and gastric cancer shows again it’s the salt because we know soy is a healthy food to eat and actually lowers the incidence of cancer when in it’s whole, plant food form.

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3204471/

    1. Right on! I learned this too late for my osteoporosis, which is really bad. And after reading the book, Deadly Monopolies and doing some basic research online with every product my physicians have prescribed, which are recombinant dna from E-coli bacteria, I decided not to trust the U.S. FDA or the biotechnology-pharmaceutical companies any more than I trust the biotech-pesticide corporations who are poisoning our food with GMO’s made from E-coli and other antibiotic resistant bacteria in order for the plant to resist lethal amounts of herbicides.

      I ordered a worm farm and red worms, which I’m feeding nutrient rich certified organic vegan foods, in order to create my own fertilizer to grow certified organic seeds in raised beds.

      Don Huber, an award-winning, internationally
      recognized scientist, and professor of plant pathology at Purdue University for the past 35 years focused his agricultural research on the epidemiology and control of soil-borne plant pathogens,
      with specific emphasis on microbial ecology, cultural and biological controls, and the physiology of host-parasite relationships. He is an expert in his many fields.

      Dr. Huber says: “About 85 percent of all genetically engineered plants are herbicide-tolerant—designed to tolerate very high levels of herbicides, glyphosate in particular. These are the so-called Roundup Ready crops.

      It’s important to realize that Glyphosate is not ‘just’ an herbicide. It was first patented as a mineral chelator. It immobilizes nutrients, so they are not physiologically available for your body…”

      I took this very seriously when embarking on eating vegan foods, and only purchase organically grown and produced crops of whole food. Hopefully, my compost will be ready before vested corporate interests and their allies in government dismantle organic food production in the USA and around the world.

      My orthopedic surgeon said he had never seen anyone grow bone as fast as I after a fractured pelvis. Hopefully my lumbar fracture will heal just as quickly, because I refuse to ingest biologics. Don’t trust the horrible side effects of not affecting me. Would rather go with what I have without more health damage from the drugs.

  6. Radishes appear to be one of the foods with high nitrates in them, and nitrates have been implicated in some cancers. Koreans in general have high rates of stomach and gastric cancer, although that may have something to do with the large amount of barbecued meat that they eat. For right now, I will choose the napa cabbage kimchi, which according to the study, was associated with lower rates of gastric cancer, rather than the radish kimchi, which was associated with higher rates.

    Very high nitrate levels (> 250 mg/100 g*): arugula (rocket or rucola), bok choy, celery, chervil, collard greens, cress, lettuce, radish, red beetroot, rhubarb, spinach, Swiss chard.

    From this athletic health website:

    http://www.caroltorgan.com/athletic-performance-beetroot-juice-nitrates-spit/
    JOhn S
    PDX OR

    1. nitrates and nitrites are 2 different compounds. Dr. Greger covers nitrates here.
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/are-nitrates-pollutants-or-nutrients/

      To summarize, when you consume plant foods, they may contain nitrates. These nitrates alone are not harmful, they are absorbed and recirculated to your mouth and the oral flora converts nitrates to nitrites. The journey continues as nitrates enter your stomach. At this point, if one has consumed a fatty meal, as commonly found with nitrites in cured animal products, then the nitrites become nitrosamines which are indeed carcinogenic. In the absence of fat, the nitrites become nitric oxide and contribute to the mitochondrial efficiency of cells, including skeletal muscles.

  7. Not only Sweden, Dr Greger,
    In France also we have a strict salmonella control plan, every lot is salmonella controlled and a positive will be destroyed. This may be the case in almost every state of the European Union.
    unfortunately in french :
    http://www.ansespro.fr/bulletin-epidemiologique/Documents/BEP-mg-BE54-art15.pdf

    So, 1300 human cases of salmonellosis/ 65 millions inhabitants France 2011 to compare with american rate.

    I’m afraid absurd economic lobbying has the same influence in Europe as in the Us in a short delay…

  8. Thanks to those who want to keep the public controlled and ignorant, the sound for this video no longer works. But, I appreciated some of the comments made and looked up the cited stories.

    I also googled key words and found:
    “Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013 (Drug Resistant Non-Typhoidal Salmonella)
    Sjolund-Karlsson M, Howie RL, Blickenstaff K, Boerlin P, Ball T, Chalmers G, Duval B, Haro J, Rickert R, Zhao S, Fedorka-Cray PJ, Whichard JM. Occurrence of beta-lactamase genes among non-Typhi Salmonella enterica isolated from humans, food animals, and retail meats in the United States and Canada. Microbial Drug Resistance. 2013;19(3):191-7.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23289438

    Herbicides, including glyphosate [such as Roundup, Visionmax, and others] increase antibiotic resistance in E. coli and Salmonella
    https://www.organic-center.org/hot-science/herbicides-including-glyphosate-increase-antibiotic-resistance-in-e-coli-and-salmonella/
    Mar 25, 2015

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