Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Enjoy your chicken sandwich, our government is protecting all but 2.4 million of us from campylobacter
by Larry Geller
USA Today actually reported this with a straight face:
The new rules for campylobacter, which had not been regulated before, are that companies fail if they have more than 10% positives for "highly contaminated" carcasses and 46% for "low level" contamination. The USDA estimates that about 50% of poultry plants are now at this level.
In 2008, an estimated 40.2% chickens tested positive for campylobacter, which causes diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain and fever. The CDC estimates campylobacter infects 2.4 million Americans a year and kills 124.
The poultry industry will work hard to fulfill customers' expectations "for safe and wholesome chicken," Lobb says.
Safe and wholesome chicken? And our government thinks that setting the new rules above the very bad “average” level it already is really protects us against anything? It sure protects the poultry industry, of course.
Ok, now what about salmonella. We’ve been warned to cook our chicken well because chances are it’s toxic when you bring it home. Same article:
Under the new standards, only 7.5% of chicken carcasses at a plant would be allowed to test positive for salmonella, down from 20% allowed since 1996. Salmonella levels in chickens were tested at 7.1% nationally in 2009, says Richard Lobb of the National Chicken Council.
So now salmonella can be allowed to increase from what it is (7.1%) to the slightly higher level of 7.5%, and that is supposed to be an improvement??
…there are 1.4 million cases of salmonella and more than 500 deaths annually in the USA
USA Today made the new standards look good. I wonder if they serve chicken salad sandwiches in their cafeteria.
I wonder how many readers they lose each year to campylobacter or to salmonella poisoning?
Good reporting, guys, I mean, Elizabeth.
Update: I just remembered this, from The Onion (3/10/2009):
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