Why The USDA Is Too Chicken To Save Us From Ourselves

raw meat

Antibiotic resistance is a very frightening concept that even the World Health Organization considers a huge threat to the public’s health. Now, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is begging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to admit antibiotic-resistant strains of Salmonella are dangerous.

There’s something scary to have to consider: the USDA doesn’t even think antibiotic-resistant chunks of Salmonella found in raw meat are adulterants, aka ingredients that make food not fit for consumption. The USDA’s logic goes like this: if it’s cooked the way it’s supposed to be, the meat isn’t dangerous. If the USDA labeled these strains as adulterants, it would have to recall contaminated foods based on accordingly-altered testing practices, before people got sick.

But it’s not like the USDA isn’t aware that Salmonella can be dangerous; it’s initiated recalls because of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella outbreaks before. Still, CSPI claims this action is as inconsistent as it is arbitrary, and is a big problem that could be eradicated if antibiotic-resistant Salmonella was classified properly.

Two multi-state outbreaks associated with chicken have occurred since 2011. One was from Foster Farms chicken, which made 750 people sick, while hospitalizing 233. Even after the second outbreak, contaminated products remained on the market for a full 10 months due to USDA inaction.

Back in 2011, the USDA said no to a similar petition from the CSPI, claiming that it wasn’t aware of any current information suggesting that consumers should consider ground meat to be cooked properly “when rare, medium-rare, or medium.” Upon resubmitting this petition, the CSPI offers recipes showing temperatures along with cooking times representative of rare to medium-rare cooking temperatures.

The amount of sicknesses, as well as hospitalizations, shows that the USDA’s “confidence in Americans” to keep antibiotic-resistant Salmonella under control using proper cooking methods is sorely misplaced, warned Caroline Smith DeWaal, CSPI food safety director. The goal is to lower consumer contact by keeping such scary strains out of meat products altogether, she continues.

It’s also imperative that you protect yourself if you’re near an animal feeding operation. New studies have discovered that a primary factor in the continued spread of resistant organisms around our communities is flies, admits Stephen Harrod Buhner, who wrote The Home Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. More than 30,000 flies visit poultry farming operations in any given six-week period, she claims. Researchers who analyzed groups of flies from these operations realized that they were infected with the same genetic variations of resistant bacteria as the ones discovered in the chicken wastes that the flies fed on.

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Neeta Lind

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