- Recent research indicates that nearly a third of store-bought grounded chicken may host a dangerous strain of salmonella. The researchers are therefore calling for heightened vigilance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
- The study found instances of salmonella, often antibiotic-resistant, in 31% of 75 sampled ground chicken batches, regardless of brand or whether the chicken was organic or conventional.
- Salmonella contamination is not limited to chicken. It was also found in ground beef, pork, and turkey. One sample of ground beef was found to contain E. coli O157:H7, a strain known to potentially cause fatal kidney complications.
- The research team is advocating for the USDA to have greater authority to limit the presence of salmonella in chicken samples and the ability to promptly close facilities where high rates of salmonella are detected.
- Consumers can reduce their risk of contracting foodborne illness by safely storing raw meat, washing hands thoroughly before handling food and after handling raw meat, using separate cutting boards for raw meat and for fruits and vegetables, and promptly storing leftovers in a cool place. Also, cooking ground pork and beef to 160 °F, poultry to 165 °F, and beef roasts, steaks, pork roasts, and chops to 145 °F is crucial.
Concerning revelations have surfaced following a recent investigation, which reports that a dangerous strain of salmonella may infiltrate almost one-third of store-bought ground chicken.
Throwing light on their findings, the research team implored the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the authority regulating meat supply across the nation, to amplify their measures in safeguarding consumers against this bacterium, the instigator of severe illness.
Speaking on the matter, the leader of the research division expressed, “For over a decade, the USDA made claims of reducing afflictions caused by salmonella contamination. However, our findings clearly indicate that prevalent standards need a drastic upliftment to promise public safety. We necessitate a more rigorous approach by the USDA in eliminating salmonella from our kitchens and dining tables.”
Result Insights and Detailed Breakdown
The group tested a total of 75 samples of ground chicken, with salmonella peeping through in approximately 31% of the samples, which equals to 23 instances. In terms of distribution across brands, no single outlet floated above or below the rest, with each containing traces of salmonella, irrespective of whether they procured their chicken originated from organic or conventional sources.
Researchers discovered that every instance of salmonella was fortified against at least one antibiotic, and an alarming 78% were impervious to multiple drugs – a factor that could complicate future treatment courses. Alarmingly, every year, antibiotic-resistant salmonella infects over 212,000 Americans via food, leading to around 70 fatalities, as stated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Salmonella Contamination Beyond Chicken
The study also shed light on the disturbing presence of salmonella in multiple types of ground meat including beef, pork, and turkey. The presence of the hazardous E. coli O157:H7 strain, known for its tendency to damage intestines and potentially induce fatal kidney complications, was unearthed in a sample of ground beef.
The investigating team sent out an alert to the USDA early this year, leading to a massive recall of over 28,000 pounds of meat from grocery chains across seven western states. The group applauded USDA’s proactive measures against virulent strains of E. coli, but bemoaned the absence of substantial action against salmonella.
Precautionary Steps: Shared Responsibility for Public Health
Each year, salmonella sickness afflicts over 1 million Americans, around 20% of whom contract it through contaminated poultry products. The research team urged the USDA to limit the percentage of chicken samples testing positive for salmonella, focusing on curbing strains that pose the greatest threats to public health. They also recommended the USDA be endowed with greater authority to inspect poultry facilities and promptly close ones where high rates of salmonella are detected.
Preventing Food Poisoning: Tips for a Safe Kitchen
Calling attention to the power each consumer has in safeguarding their own health, the researchers offered some practical tips to minimize the risk of contracting a foodborne illness. Suggestions involve the dedicated storage of raw meat in grocery bags and refrigerators, the practice of thorough hand washing before food preparation and after handling raw meat, maintaining separate cutting boards for raw meat and for fruits and vegetables, along with the habit of promptly storing leftovers away from heat after a meal.
Optimal Cooking Temperatures
Ground pork and beef are recommended to be cooked to a safe temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. For poultry, the recommended temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Finally, beef roasts, steaks, pork roasts, and chops should reach a temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit before consumption.
Further Resources for Food Safety
For additional insights on food safety, including information on recalls and disease outbreaks, visit Foodsafety.gov.