FoodFacts.com makes every effort to keep our community informed on the latest food recalls that happen just about every day. We try to stay as up-to-date as possible regarding breaking news on any and every kind of food contamination. And today is no different than every other day when it comes to reporting on this disturbing category of food news.
A new study from Consumer Reports is showing that well over half of the ground turkey samples they examined are contaminated with fecal bacteria. In addition more than 90 percent of ground turkey samples tested contained at least one of the five bacteria the test was designed to find: salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, enterococcus and campylobacter. The test examined 257 retail samples from 21 states and 27 different brands and every sample was purchased at a retail establishment.
Specifically, 69% of samples Consumer Reports tested contained enterococcus and 60% tested positive for E.coli. Both of these bacteria are associated with fecal contamination. Some of the bacteria found in these samples can cause food poisoning, urinary bloodstream and other infections.
The response from industry groups was immediate. The National Turkey Federation refuted the study as “alarmist,” stating “The magazine reported high levels of certain pathogens on the samples tested, but it is important to note that the two most prevalent, enterococcus and generic E. coli, are not considered sources of foodborne illness.”
As if the evidence of fecal contamination wasn’t enough to alarm consumers about the consumption of ground turkey, Consumer Reports also found that many of the disease-causing organisms that were tested were resistant to the antibiotics used to fight them. Consumer Reports tested both conventional turkey meat and turkey meat from birds that were not fed antibiotics. Conventional ground turkey was compared to ground turkey labeled “no antibiotics,” “organic,” (which doesn’t use antibiotics) or “raised without antibiotics” — and all were found to be equally likely to contain the bacteria the magazine included in its study. However, bacteria on the antibiotic-free ground turkey was less likely to be antibiotic-resistant.
The Environmental Working Group recently released a study showing that antibiotic-resistant superbugs are on the rise with 81% of raw ground turkey, 69% of raw pork chops and 55% of raw ground beef purchased at retail during 2011 contained antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Betsy Booren, Chief Scientist of the American Meat Institute responded to the concerns regarding antibiotic resistant bacteria in the Consumer Reports Study saying, “The U.S. meat and poultry industry supports the judicious use of antibiotics. The American Meat Institute recognizes that concerns exist and supports efforts now under way to phase out the use of antibiotics for growth promotion.”
FoodFacts.com will follow the responses to this important research from Consumer Reports. In the meantime, you can read more about their findings in the June Consumer Reports article here: http://www.consumerreports.org/turkey0613