Salmonella and Chicken

Protect yourself and your family from the dangers of salmonella and chicken. This article will give you the details.

A friend of mine has a college buddy named Bernie who NEVER eats chicken. It’s not that he’s a vegetarian. Far from it. Bernie loves to eat meat and on any given day wolfs down meatloaf, pork chops, burgers and hotdogs.

But Bernie draws the line at chicken. When my friend told me the story, she said Bernie grew up on a commercial chicken farm and told her, “Chickens are filthy.”

At our house, we have chicken at least twice a week. Especially rotisserie chicken. We pick it up from our local Whole Foods and turn the leftovers into chicken salad.

But Bernie may be on to something, as I just found out that two-thirds of the chicken in supermarkets is probably contaminated. 

It took a revealing experiment by Consumer Reports for me to really get it. Today, I’ll tell you about that experiment so you understand the risks. And don’t worry. You don’t have to give up chicken like Bernie did. I’ll show you how to protect yourself.  

Tests Prove the Chicken from Your Local Grocery Store Could Make You Sick

Consumer Reports sent investigators out to 100 markets in 22 states to buy chicken from the same meat cases where you and I shop. 

They tested 382 chickens and found that a whopping 66% contained salmonella or campylobacter bacteria, two of the biggest causes of food-borne illnesses. 

Both salmonella and campylobacter can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever, and headache, and sometimes arthritis symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year those two bacteria alone sicken 3.4 million Americans… and kill 500. 

Some chickens tested by Consumer Reports were dirtier than others. More than 80% of chickens from Tyson and Foster Farms were contaminated.  And although Perdue chickens tested safest, 44% were still contaminated with one or the other bacteria. 

Organic was a safer bet than conventional but still not completely clean. Store brand organic chickens were all free of salmonella but 57% carried campylobacter. 

“Air-chilled” chickens seemed cleanest. Most chickens are dumped in a chlorine solution to kill bacteria before they’re packaged. Air-chilled birds skip the chlorine bath but are subjected to cold air and mist to lower their temperature quickly to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. It seems to work.

Consumer Reports found that all of the Bell & Evans organic chickens labeled “Air-Chilled” were completely clear of bacteria. But the sample was so small you can’t rely on it.  

I don’t mean to sound like Chicken Little, and the sky is certainly not falling. Yes, the risk is out there but the truth is that our bodies were designed to fight off these bacteria.

Your first line of defense is a strong immune system that clears these invaders from your body. That’s why some people get sick from tainted meat and others have no problem. 

But to reduce the assault on your immune system, it’s also a good idea to make sure the food you buy is as safe as it can be. 

5 Simple Steps to Safer Chicken

Rather than swearing off chicken, you can take a few easy precautions to protect yourself and your family. 

1.  Buy local pastured chicken. Chickens raised on factory farms where upwards of 30,000 animals are caged together are about 4 times more likely to carry salmonella than small flocks that are allowed to roam outside. 

2.  Opt for organic when you buy from the supermarket. The Consumer Reports study showed that organic chicken was less contaminated than most of the conventionally raised birds.

3.  Look for “Air-Chilled” on the package. It’s no guarantee but the study indicates this does a better job of killing microbes than a chlorine bath. 

4.  Thaw chicken safely. While the inside of chicken is still frozen, the outside may be warm enough to breed bad bacteria. To be safe, always thaw chicken in the refrigerator. 

5.  Cook chicken thoroughly. No matter what you buy, always use a meat thermometer and cook chicken to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit to be sure to kill all the pathogens.


About the Author: Jason Kennedy is a celebrated investigative health writer and the author of The X-Factor Revolution and Beyond the Blue Zone. With over 10 years of experience working with today’s leading alternative and anti-aging doctors, Jason shares his insider status and access to the latest breakthroughs with thousands of readers from around world.

© Copyright 2013 Discovery Health Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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