Foster Farms Responds to Chicken Salmonella Outbreaks

Foster Farms Responds to Chicken Salmonella Outbreaks
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Foster Farms chicken may have infected and sickened more than 10,000 people, due to contamination of the meat with fecal material.

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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.

Salmonella causes more hospitalizations than any other foodborne illness, more deaths than any other foodborne illness, and it’s on the rise. Salmonella causes a million cases of food poisoning every year in the U.S., and over the last decade or so, the number of cases have “increased by 44%”—particularly among children and the elderly. And, chicken is the #1 cause.

From spring 2012 to spring 2013, the Centers for Disease Control reported over 100 individuals infected across 13 states with a particularly virulent strain of salmonella. One in three were hospitalized. Investigations pointed to Foster Farms-brand chicken as the most likely cause of the outbreak—the sixth largest chicken producer in the U.S. The CDC warned people, but nothing was done. Foster Farms apparently continued to pump out contaminated meat. In October, the CDC-reported outbreak expanded to 21 states.

Though there’s only been a few hundred cases confirmed, for every confirmed case, the CDC estimates 38 cases slip through the cracks. So, that means Foster Farms chicken may have infected and sickened over 10,000 people.

When USDA inspectors went in to investigate, they found 25% of the chicken they sampled was contaminated with the outbreak strain of salmonella—likely because of all the “fecal [matter they found] on [the] carcasses.”

Consumer Reports, in their February 2014 issue, published a study they did on the high cost of cheap chicken in general, finding 97% of retail chicken breasts off store shelves were contaminated with bacteria that could make people sick. 38% of the salmonella they found was resistant to multiple antibiotics, and considered a serious public health threat by the CDC. Consumer Reports suggested the “cramped conditions” on factory chicken farms may be playing a role. And, indeed, new research shows the stress of overcrowding can increase salmonella invasion.

The Pew Commission released a special report on the Foster Farms outbreaks, concluding that the outbreaks “bring into sharp focus the ineffectiveness” of USDA’s approach to “minimizing salmonella contamination in poultry products. The agency’s response…was inadequate to protect public health.” And, to this date, “thousands of people are getting sick with [these] preventable foodborne illnesses.” Among their radical recommendations: “Close facilities [that are] failing to produce safe food, and keep them closed” until their products stop sending people to the hospital.

What did Foster Farms have to say for itself? They said their chicken was “safe to eat,” there’s still “no recall in effect,” and that it is “Grade A wholesome.” In the same breath, though, they say salmonella on chicken happens all the time. Grade A wholesome, but might kill us if we don’t handle it right.

As outspoken food safety advocate Bill Marler put it, the poultry industry’s reaction to the presence of fecal contamination on chicken is that “[it] Happens.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

 

Images thanks to jillmotts, EssjayNZ, and snowpea&bokchoi via flickr; and Grendelkhan via Wikimedia

 

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.

Salmonella causes more hospitalizations than any other foodborne illness, more deaths than any other foodborne illness, and it’s on the rise. Salmonella causes a million cases of food poisoning every year in the U.S., and over the last decade or so, the number of cases have “increased by 44%”—particularly among children and the elderly. And, chicken is the #1 cause.

From spring 2012 to spring 2013, the Centers for Disease Control reported over 100 individuals infected across 13 states with a particularly virulent strain of salmonella. One in three were hospitalized. Investigations pointed to Foster Farms-brand chicken as the most likely cause of the outbreak—the sixth largest chicken producer in the U.S. The CDC warned people, but nothing was done. Foster Farms apparently continued to pump out contaminated meat. In October, the CDC-reported outbreak expanded to 21 states.

Though there’s only been a few hundred cases confirmed, for every confirmed case, the CDC estimates 38 cases slip through the cracks. So, that means Foster Farms chicken may have infected and sickened over 10,000 people.

When USDA inspectors went in to investigate, they found 25% of the chicken they sampled was contaminated with the outbreak strain of salmonella—likely because of all the “fecal [matter they found] on [the] carcasses.”

Consumer Reports, in their February 2014 issue, published a study they did on the high cost of cheap chicken in general, finding 97% of retail chicken breasts off store shelves were contaminated with bacteria that could make people sick. 38% of the salmonella they found was resistant to multiple antibiotics, and considered a serious public health threat by the CDC. Consumer Reports suggested the “cramped conditions” on factory chicken farms may be playing a role. And, indeed, new research shows the stress of overcrowding can increase salmonella invasion.

The Pew Commission released a special report on the Foster Farms outbreaks, concluding that the outbreaks “bring into sharp focus the ineffectiveness” of USDA’s approach to “minimizing salmonella contamination in poultry products. The agency’s response…was inadequate to protect public health.” And, to this date, “thousands of people are getting sick with [these] preventable foodborne illnesses.” Among their radical recommendations: “Close facilities [that are] failing to produce safe food, and keep them closed” until their products stop sending people to the hospital.

What did Foster Farms have to say for itself? They said their chicken was “safe to eat,” there’s still “no recall in effect,” and that it is “Grade A wholesome.” In the same breath, though, they say salmonella on chicken happens all the time. Grade A wholesome, but might kill us if we don’t handle it right.

As outspoken food safety advocate Bill Marler put it, the poultry industry’s reaction to the presence of fecal contamination on chicken is that “[it] Happens.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

 

Images thanks to jillmotts, EssjayNZ, and snowpea&bokchoi via flickr; and Grendelkhan via Wikimedia

 

Doctor's Note

Salmonella contamination is also a problem in the U.S. egg supply, sickening more than 100,000 people every year (see Total Recall).

Other pathogens in meat include yersinia enterocolitica in pork (see Yersinia in Pork), staphylococcus (see U.S. Meat Supply Flying at Half Staph), MRSA (see MRSA in U.S. Retail Meat), hepatitis E (see Hepatitis E Virus in Pork), bladder-infecting E. coli (see Avoiding Chicken To Avoid Bladder Infections), clostridium difficile (see Toxic Megacolon Superbug), and campylobacter, the most common bacterial chicken pathogen (see Poultry & Paralysis).

Poultry appears to cause the most outbreaks, but is all chicken to blame equally? See Superbugs in Conventional vs. Organic Chicken.

How is it legal for Foster Farms to continue to ship out meat known to be contaminated with a dangerous pathogen? See Why is Selling Salmonella-Tainted Chicken Legal? And, stay tuned to learn more in Chicken Salmonella Thanks to Meat Industry Lawsuit.

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

51 responses to “Foster Farms Responds to Chicken Salmonella Outbreaks

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  1. Dr. Gregger, Thanks for all the work you do to bring nutritional awareness to so many people. Do you have a video or article that details what a whole food plant based diet should look like for athletes who train with weights ? I have seen several videos with tid bits of info, like B-12 and vitamin D intake as well as a few of the recovery videos, but I haven’t been able to find any single source that deals with proper diet for the entire day. Thanks for your help.




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    1. Just google Vegan bodybuilding and you should find somethings. Breakfast is usually oatmeal with berries and nuts. Definately incorporate beans, quinoa, salad and veggie burgers into you lunch/dinner




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      1. Thanks Aaron, I did what u suggested and found a lot of conflicting information especially regarding the correct ratio of carbs, protein, and fats. Some even say to much protein may be problematic to health, but if your weight training and don’t eat enough protein how can you build muscle. So, is there and optimal plant based diet for bodybuilders that is supported by current research? If there is I haven’t been able to find one. It seems like the vegan bodybuilding information I have found suggest all the same macro nutrient ratios as any animal based diet. It makes me think the Vegan Bodybuilding plans are just modified from the meat based plans.




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        1. Jason,

          Don’t get hung up on amounts. There is plenty of protein around in normal WF meals. You do not need massive quantities. Consider if you wanted to put on 2 lbs of muscle in a month ( that is a lot ). This is about 1kg. that in turns implies about 30 gms/ day. Estimates for ‘ normal folks ‘ who don’t lift is about 30 gms protein a day for maintenance. So at a max you need 60 gms or so for a wondrous 24 lbs of muscle in a year – if your are really pumping iron . On top of that our bodies know if it is in need of protein so it can recycle some of the protein that is broken down. Keep in mind It is just as important to have carbs around to maintain growth factors ( like IGF ) so that the amino acids can be used effectively and to keep the inflammatory response of working out to a minimum.

          Yes you do need to eat – and a lot…If you are 150-170 lbs and want to bulk up, you’ll need about 3000-3500 cal/day for sweaty 2-3 hr workout 4 x week but that needs to include less than that 60 gms of protein a day mentioned – probably closer to 40-50 gms. 2500 cal if you do 1-2 hrs.

          That protein accounts for 500-600 cal. What do you do with the rest of those 2000-3000? Well you need about 1500 just to keep walking. The remainder is what you use in those workouts.

          And yes, you can overdo protein even if from WF. Conversely – as a side note – the recent winner in the Biggest Looser showed a whopping 130 lbs loss and was on a 1300 cal/day diet. She was probably in ketosis !

          So follow something like McDougall’s program and snack on a slab of tofu/tomato/spinach whole grain sandwich and some dried apricots and blue berries right after a workout. You’ll be fine

          If you want some hard data see the “Plant Positive” series. There is a good section on body builders there.




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            1. Plant Positive is as Paleo as Romney is Democrat. No, Plant Positive ( as you might guess from the name ) is hard core WPF with more data than most can or are willing to consume and digest. He emusifies Traube, Lustig, Atilia to name a few lesser evils. Crushes Atkins and a host of other goblins like Minger.

              M. Greger is very kind/humerous in his presentations, Plant Positive is almost the alter-ego presenting data in a format Dr. Greger probably wishes he could use – stinging. My guess is that he is an epidemiologist or cardiologist- in any event someone with solid upper level biochemical training.

              Highly recommend the site if you are serious about WPF and want some ammunition in your pocket for your next encounter with someone who still believes high LDL is conducive to long life.




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        2. Does this help?

          1. A review article published in a 2006 edition of the “International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism” reports that excessive protein intake can be dangerous and is defined as consuming more than 35 percent of your daily calories from protein.

          2. The academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reports that consuming more than 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or about 0.82 grams of protein per pound, does not provide additional benefits when trying to build muscle.

          3. Rip Esselstyn’s book “My Beef with Meat” has a chapter for athletes – Plant Strong the Athletes X-Factor – that might be useful for you.




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        3. You do not need a bunch of protein to gain muscle. Work out with your weights, and eat a diet of fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and grains. Keep your protein and fat intake between 10 – 15% and the rest carbs.




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        4. Jason,

          Go to this website PCRM (Physicians committee for Responsible Medicine) http://pcrm.org/factsheets/resources/health-and-nutrition-fact-sheets

          Fill in the information (Subject material is free they just want you to sign in) and click Submit.

          Go to the bottom of the page under the heading Nutrition Fact Sheets: General Nutrition and click the Protein Myth and Food Power for Athletes. Good straight forward information with some recipee’s. Neal Barnard, MD and his team have compiled a plethora of information and recipee’s that are healthy and provide optimal nutrition for everyone including athletes.

          Remember a baby triples it’s weight in it’s first year of life drinking only breast milk. With what we have been told about the importance of protein intake throughout our lives in the US we would think there must be a lot of protein in Breast Milk. I mean, come on, triples its size?!? WOW!

          There must be a whopping amount of protein, right?

          Breast milk is only 1% in protein. An Apple is one percent protein!

          The largest land animal on the planet is an elephant and it eats only plants.

          Our digestive system is most closely related to the Great Apes and they are plant based, and the Silver back males are extremely powerful!(http://www.cast.uark.edu/local/icaes/conferences/wburg/posters/psrodman/GAMHD.htm) Click the link for an exhaustive list of plants apes eat.

          Elephants and Apes get enough protein! Why can’t we? The point is, we can and we do!

          We have been protein-washed in the US because the Meat, Dairy, Fish and Egg councils want you to buy their products. If everyone knew they didn’t have to eat those cancer causing, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, autoimmune disease promoting foods to get adequate protein in their diet, those corporations wouldn’t make very much money! It’s totally profit driven.

          Anyway I hope the information from PCRM helps.




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                1. I’m not on vacation (I wish) in the last 6 months I moved from Los Angeles back to my original home, moved into a new home about 2 months ago, have two teenage boys that are very active and my wife and I both work so we have been very busy, so it is hard to find the time to comment. I love being able to support Dr. Greger’s effort I just wish I had more time to help with all the questions and comments.
                  I appreciate your time with all your help and answers to the questions you provide on this site. It is greatly appreciated. Missed you too. :)




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        5. I suggest staying away from protein powder supplements. First, there is nothing buffering the absorption of purified protein directly into the bloodstream, which will cause acidosis and IGF-1 levels to spike. Second, most protein powders also contain harmful moieties like vitamin E, lecithin, choline, magnesium etc, which have all been linked to adverse health outcomes. My suggestion is that you get your protein from whole food sources – beans/legumes (chickpeas, navy beans, kidney beans, adzukai beans, soybeans), the lentils, peanuts, hummus, other soyfoods, grains, seeds and nuts. The most complete protein sources in the plant kingdom derive from the legume family, which can be incredibly diverse in species and forms on the plate in front of you. For example, putting some hummus on some steamed cruciferous vegetables is a way of getting protein in the form of mashed chickpeas. Putting natural (no sugar/no salt/no veg. oil-added) peanut butter on some whole wheat bread is another way of getting protein – both from the nut butter and from the bread. I myself like to put cooked beans into my smoothies, once I have thoroughly washed them off to eliminate any adverse flavours. There is a million ways to incorporate a complete balance of plant proteins into your diet. You could even go Eco-Atkins if you want.




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          1. All these replies to Jason, all dishing out ( could not help myself ) essentially the same thing. Not one bit of sarcasm or animosity . Cool




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    2. Jason,

      Take a look at:
      http://plantpositive.squarespace.com/blog/2012/3/25/tpns-32-ancient-and-out-of-fashion.html ( esp at ~ min 2:30 )
      It’s part of a series showing a list of diets eaten by particularly strong cultures. It strongly indicates that you do not have to be overly concerned about a particular diet but that a wide variety of WPF diets are sufficient to produce high strength.

      There is also reference to gms/protein/day ( 40-50) consumed by these cultures.




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  2. Dr, Greger. I’m vegan just for a little more than two months and I
    already started having numbness and tingling in my feet. I’ ve been
    taking cyanocobalamin injections in my thigh for a week now
    (injections… that’s all I could find in my town) (0,5 mg solution per
    day), but I still have the numbness and tingling…maybe I have iron
    deficiency? I’m thinking about visiting a doctor, they don’t really know
    a lot about veganism. What blood or other tests should I go through to
    find
    out what’s wrong with me (and here where i live they say they don’t do
    MMA test for B12). Help me, please. I’m really worried. What do I do?




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    1. Jay go to a doctor. B12 deficiency (and resulting symptoms) isn’t going to happen in 2 months. It could be a couple of things. But not veganism.




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    2. As Veganrunner stated, Go to the Doctor! Ask your friends and family which doc they think listens and makes appropriate decisions and go to that one. The numbness could be many things and really needs to be evaluated.




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  3. I noticed on the package of meat, the words “American Humane Association Certified.” Does the American Humane Association approve of raising chickens in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions?




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    1. “Humane” certifications are a marketing technique used to increase profits, at least according to Humane Society’s Joe Maxwell, pig farmer and HSUS Director of Rural Development & Outreach. They are larely meaningless in practice. However, they do tend to be supported by the large animal welfare organizations, since they provide a concrete goal which they can campaign on and more importantly, raise donations towards. Most “humane” practices actually increase economic efficiency for farmers and do little to improve conditions, but they do make people feel better about consuming animal products.




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    1. I don’t know how you are doing the sharing but for me I just right click the address bar on the web page the video is on, click copy, and then paste into the Facebook post. It may take a second but the video will automatically load into the Facebook post. I use Google Chrome.
      I hope this helps.




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      1. You are correct and thats what I often do. I just wanted dr greger to know that I tried the facebook button under the video and it didnt appear to connect. I should have communicating that clearer. thanks.

        I just went back and tried it again and it is now working.




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  4. The way i see it, if anyone eats the stuff with all the contamination going on then they should be the ones responsible. In other words quit eating the poison.




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  5. A funny thought. “100% Natural” is what the label says. They’re right, Salmonella is 100% natural.

    What about the other label, “American Humane Association Certified.”
    Really?! Sounds like an oxymoron to me!

    Recently we had a Foster Farms farm shut down in California because it was infested with cockaroaches.(http://articles.latimes.com/2014/jan/08/business/la-fi-0109-foster-farms-cockroaches-20140109)

    This is a statement from the AHA website, “You’ve probably seen our “No Animals Were Harmed”® disclaimer at the end of movies. But did you know that American Humane Association’s Los Angeles-based Film & TV Unit is the film and television industry’s only officially-sanctioned animal monitoring program?”

    What are they monitoring? (Not the cockaroaches) and “No Animals were Harmed”? Are chickens not animals?




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    1. From the article:

      “Despite pressure to do so, federal inspectors could not force a recall of Foster Farms poultry because salmonella, unlike strains of E. coli, is considered naturally occurring and not an adulterant.”

      Seriously?




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    1. Not sure why you would boil first ( dissolve out ?) but, Yes, you can kill the bacteria by cooking, but not the endotoxins ( the mucopolysaccharides that make up part of the bacteria membrane.), nor, as Dr. Greger has pointed out , does it affect the bacteria on your kitchen counter




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  6. “animal stress” = hypocritic naming for “animal suffering”. this concept was developed in the last decade to allow industry to respond to public concern about animal welfare.




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  7. Dr. Gregger,
    After seeing several of your videos about meat, I am curious if any studies have been done on kosher meat that is prepared according to the orthodox way. Perhaps some of the procedures like soaking out the blood of the meet and salting the meet mitigate some of the negaitve effects of bacteria? Thank you for everything you do!




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  8. Great…no….better than great video…Best I have ever seen.
    Can UV-c light be used as a way to fight…reduce health risks?

    Best summary of current health issues I have read…Troy in Texas.
    ( chicken does look as tasty as it use to…need a water diet)




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