Toxic bomb
There was outrage when we heard about the chicken salmonella outbreak which had been tied to Foster Farm plants. Certainly we thought that the contaminated product would be taken off the shelves and we would be safe. Not so fast. Little has been done and the toxic product is still available in stores.

You see, in the U.S., salmonella contaminated chicken is par for the course. In fact at least one-quarter of raw chicken is contaminated with salmonella and much of it is antibiotic resistant. We bring the toxic chicken bomb into our homes and it is our responsibility to detonate the bomb by proper cooking methods. If we don't our families run the risk of sickness or worse.

The customers for this tainted product include fast food, institutions such as the school lunch program, supermarkets and restaurants.  Really anywhere where costs and profits are the most important criteria for choosing product which in the U.S. is just about everywhere.

Mark Bittman writing at The New York Times asks the question, "Should you eat chicken?"

Believe it or not, the presence of salmonella on chicken is both common and acceptable. (About a quarter of all chicken parts are contaminated, a fact of which F.S.I.S. is fully aware and which it is evaluating.) From the Centers for Disease Control: “It is not unusual for raw poultry from any producer to have salmonella bacteria. C.D.C. and U.S.D.A.-F.S.I.S. recommend consumers follow food safety tips to prevent salmonella infection from raw poultry produced by Foster Farms or any other brand.”

Right. But if salmonella was ever easily killed by careful handling and cooking, perhaps that is no longer the case; perhaps it’s more virulent and heartier, and it certainly now defies some antibiotics.

Bittman has some suggestions which I've been harping on for years:
1. The F.D.A. must disallow the use of prophylactic antibiotics in animal production. It’s almost as simple as that.

2. The U.S.D.A. must consider salmonella that’s been linked to illness an “adulterant” (as it does strains of E. coli), which would mean that its very presence on foods would be sufficient to take them off the market. Again, it’s almost as simple as that. (Sweden produces chicken with zero levels of salmonella. Are they that much smarter than us?)

How soon will this be done? Your guess is as good as mine. Livestock production in the U.S. is a prime example of republican ideology run amok. Privatization and deregulation are responsible for giving us a primarily industrial system with toxic product. Product which is credited with the mass pollution of our rivers, is a major contributor(pdf) to climate change and is responsible for the public health crisis of the emergence of "super bugs" resistant to conventional antibiotics.

Originally posted to beach babe in fl on Thu Oct 17, 2013 at 07:42 AM PDT.

Also republished by Meatless Advocates Meetup and Daily Kos.

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