Fecal Bacteria Survey

Fecal Bacteria Survey
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How contaminated is the American meat supply with fecal matter?

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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.

Last year, we played the USDA parasite game. This year, we can play the fecal bacteria game, thanks to the Centers for Disease Control, which tests retail meat to see how much fecal matter contamination they can find.

First up, salmonella; a fecal pathogen that can trigger something called Reiter’s syndrome, where you come down with salmonella food poisoning once, and you can end up with chronic, debilitating arthritis for the rest of your life. And all sorts of other grisly consequences.

Where’s salmonella found the most? Chicken, turkey, beef, or pork? I would have guessed chicken; but no, turkey was nearly twice as risky in the latest annual survey in terms of salmonella contamination.

But what percentages are we talking about? Who thinks greater than 50% of turkey has salmonella in it? Or is it less than 50%?

Thankfully, less than 50%. Only about 1 in 7 retail packages of poultry has the potential to permanently cripple us. Better odds than Russian roulette!

Seriously, though. Why are American consumers placed at such high risk? Earlier this year, in a meat industry trade publication, an article was published on how countries in Europe boast extremely low salmonella rates. They’ve gotten salmonella contamination in poultry as low as 2%. How do they do it?

While countries like Sweden still find some salmonella-positive flocks, the difference is that it is illegal there to sell salmonella-positive chicken. What a concept. It’s illegal to sell a product that could kill or cripple our children. So why don’t we do that?

Banning infected poultry is a “hard-handed” policy, an Alabama poultry science professor explains: “The fact is that it’s too expensive not to sell salmonella-positive chicken.” 

Can you imagine a toy manufacturer saying, “Sorry, we’d love to pull unsafe toys from the market, but such a large percentage of our toys are hazardous, that it would be too expensive for us.”

Next up, campylobacter, a fecal pathogen that can trigger something called Guillain-Barré syndrome, where you come down with campylobacter food poisoning once, and you can end up paralyzed on a ventilator. You’re not in a coma; you’re awake—but so completely paralyzed you can’t even breathe on your own. I’ve seen about a dozen patients with Guillain-Barré—it’s like straight out of a buried alive horror movie.

Where’s campylobacter found the most? Chicken, turkey, beef, or pork? No contest: the chicken breasts. It doesn’t seem to be in red meat at all.

But is it more than half of chicken in stores these days? Or less than half? Well, it was just under 50%.

Still, with the virtual elimination of polio, the most common cause of neuromuscular paralysis in the United States now comes from eating chicken.

And finally, E. coli—a general indicator of how much fecal matter is left on or in the meat. Chicken, turkey, beef, or pork?

Turkey, to another surprise finish. But is it more than 50%, or less?

More than 90%: 9 out of 10 packages of ground turkey, 9 out of 10 chicken breasts, are packaged with poop, and most ground beef in the country has manure in it as well—although less than half of pork chops are contaminated with hog feces.

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.

Last year, we played the USDA parasite game. This year, we can play the fecal bacteria game, thanks to the Centers for Disease Control, which tests retail meat to see how much fecal matter contamination they can find.

First up, salmonella; a fecal pathogen that can trigger something called Reiter’s syndrome, where you come down with salmonella food poisoning once, and you can end up with chronic, debilitating arthritis for the rest of your life. And all sorts of other grisly consequences.

Where’s salmonella found the most? Chicken, turkey, beef, or pork? I would have guessed chicken; but no, turkey was nearly twice as risky in the latest annual survey in terms of salmonella contamination.

But what percentages are we talking about? Who thinks greater than 50% of turkey has salmonella in it? Or is it less than 50%?

Thankfully, less than 50%. Only about 1 in 7 retail packages of poultry has the potential to permanently cripple us. Better odds than Russian roulette!

Seriously, though. Why are American consumers placed at such high risk? Earlier this year, in a meat industry trade publication, an article was published on how countries in Europe boast extremely low salmonella rates. They’ve gotten salmonella contamination in poultry as low as 2%. How do they do it?

While countries like Sweden still find some salmonella-positive flocks, the difference is that it is illegal there to sell salmonella-positive chicken. What a concept. It’s illegal to sell a product that could kill or cripple our children. So why don’t we do that?

Banning infected poultry is a “hard-handed” policy, an Alabama poultry science professor explains: “The fact is that it’s too expensive not to sell salmonella-positive chicken.” 

Can you imagine a toy manufacturer saying, “Sorry, we’d love to pull unsafe toys from the market, but such a large percentage of our toys are hazardous, that it would be too expensive for us.”

Next up, campylobacter, a fecal pathogen that can trigger something called Guillain-Barré syndrome, where you come down with campylobacter food poisoning once, and you can end up paralyzed on a ventilator. You’re not in a coma; you’re awake—but so completely paralyzed you can’t even breathe on your own. I’ve seen about a dozen patients with Guillain-Barré—it’s like straight out of a buried alive horror movie.

Where’s campylobacter found the most? Chicken, turkey, beef, or pork? No contest: the chicken breasts. It doesn’t seem to be in red meat at all.

But is it more than half of chicken in stores these days? Or less than half? Well, it was just under 50%.

Still, with the virtual elimination of polio, the most common cause of neuromuscular paralysis in the United States now comes from eating chicken.

And finally, E. coli—a general indicator of how much fecal matter is left on or in the meat. Chicken, turkey, beef, or pork?

Turkey, to another surprise finish. But is it more than 50%, or less?

More than 90%: 9 out of 10 packages of ground turkey, 9 out of 10 chicken breasts, are packaged with poop, and most ground beef in the country has manure in it as well—although less than half of pork chops are contaminated with hog feces.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

15 responses to “Fecal Bacteria Survey

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    1. It’s called money. The gov is the problem, not the solution. There needs to be no subsidies to the meat and dairy industry. Economics will fix the problem but unfortunately lobbying will never end in DC. People will stop buying meat and dairy when they can’t afford it.




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  1. This is bad but not surprising, unfortunately. It is defies reason why we find the animal industry standards acceptable when it is making people sick and killing people. I found your discussion about chicken and Guillain Barre to be particularly interesting. WOW. I’m a nurse and we do see that from time to time–not terribly common but we see it– and it IS like a horror movie. Another really good reason to avoid chicken (how many do people need??)…..By the way, thanks so much for the work you do on your website. It’s the best of it’s kind I have found. Great information!!




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  2. I have Crohns and was wondering how safe is turkey burger I have been having flareups and I so appreciated your video on vegetarian foods. Thank -you Sue Vodicka. I also have addisons disease and colitis yes doing great all around ugh




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  3. Dr. Greger,
    Would you please comment on the H.pylori bacteria? Is this also caused, from e.coli? I’ve been dealing with this for over two years, despite twice recieving the “gold standard quadruple drug therapy”. Thank you…you’re the BEST!




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  4. You rock. Every time I turn around you coming up with definitive reasons meat and dairy can kill/make u sick. Been vegetarian but mostly Vegan, going more Vegan since seeing some of the Egg videos.Thank you for all the work you do to give us facts that we can use to increase our lifespans.




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