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Entries in Chicken (3)

Wednesday
Jul112012

Superbug Dangers in Chicken Linked to Eight Million At-Risk Women

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A growing number of medical researchers say more than eight million women are at risk of difficult-to-treat bladder infections because so-called superbugs -- organisms resistant to antibiotics and that grow in chickens -- are being transmitted to humans in the form of E. coli.

“We’re finding the same or related E. coli in human infections and in retail meat sources, specifically chicken,” says Amee Manges, epidemiologist at McGill University in Montreal.

If the medical researchers are right, this is compelling new evidence of a direct link between the pervasive, difficult-to-cure human disease and the antibiotic-fed chicken people buy at the grocery store.

“What this new research shows is, we may in fact know where it’s coming from.  It may be coming from antibiotics used in agriculture,” says Maryn McKenna, reporter for the Food & Environment Reporting Network.

The research is part of a joint investigation by ABC News and Food and the Environment Reporting Network.

The Food and Drug Administration says 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the United States are fed to livestock and even healthy chickens to protect them from disease in cramped quarters.  It also helps the chickens grow bigger and faster.

“We’re particularly interested in chickens.  They, in many cases, are getting drugs from the time that they were in an egg all the way up to the time they are slaughtered,” Manges says.

The chicken industry says there could be other factors, such as overuse of antibiotics by humans, contribuing to the superbugs.  The industry further cautions that there’s no study that has proven a superbug from poultry transfers directly to humans.

Researchers note that a study to prove the latter would be unethical because it would require intentionally exposing women to the bacteria.  They add that there's persuasive evidence that chickens carry bacteria with the highest levels of resistance to medicine.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr182012

USDA to Let Industry Self-Inspect Chicken

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Chicken is the top-selling meat in the United States.  The average American eats 84 pounds a year, more chicken than beef or pork.  Sorry red meat, chicken is what’s for dinner.  And now the USDA is proposing a fundamental change in the way that poultry makes it to the American dinner table.

As early as next week, the government will end debate on a cost-cutting, modernization proposal it hopes to fully implement by the end of the year -- a plan that is setting off alarm bells among food science watchdogs because it turns over most of the chicken inspection duties to the companies that produce the birds for sale.

The USDA hopes to save $85 million over three years by laying off 1,000 government inspectors and turning over their duties to company monitors who will staff the poultry processing lines in plants across the country.

The poultry companies expect to save more than $250 million a year because they, in turn, will be allowed to speed up the processing lines to 175 birds per minute with one USDA inspector at the end of the line.  Currently, traditional poultry lines move at a maximum of 90 birds per minute, with up to three USDA inspectors on line.

Whistleblower inspectors opposed to the new USDA rule say the companies cannot be trusted to watch over themselves.  They contend that companies routinely pressure their employees not to stop the line or slow it down, making thorough inspection for contaminants, tumors and evidence of disease nearly impossible.  “At that speed, it’s all a blur,” one current inspector tells ABC News.

According to OMB Watch, a government accountability newsletter, cutbacks at the USDA have coincided with a significant rise in salmonella outbreaks.  The group says 2010 was a record year for salmonella infection and 2011 saw 103 poultry, egg and meat recalls because of disease-causing bacteria, the most in nearly 10 years.

The USDA, which has been running a pilot program of the changes in 20 U.S. poultry plants, says the new system is not about cost-cutting, but about bringing food safety up to date.

Watchdog groups insist a combination of increased testing and government inspection is needed to lower salmonella and other disease outbreaks from chicken.  The National Chicken Council says on its website that while “plant employees would have an expanded role in inspecting carcasses,” USDA inspectors will still be in the plant.  And, it says, “we are confident that modernizing the poultry inspection system will enable us to build on our success in providing delicious, safe and wholesome food to our customers.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec282011

Chicken Treats May Have Sickened Hundreds of Dogs

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Over the past month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has received more than 200 reports of dogs being sickened -- some fatally -- after eating chicken jerky treats imported from China.

On Nov. 18 the FDA warned it had received an increase in complaints of illnesses in dogs that had eaten chicken jerky -- tenders, strips and treats. At that point, there had been 70 reports.

Since then, the agency has received another 283 reports. That brings the total to 353 pets sickened. Some of them died, but the FDA has not released a number of deaths.

Investigators have not yet directly linked the illnesses to eating the treats and contaminants have not yet been found on any particular product.

An FDA spokeswoman writes: “A specific brand hasn't been identified nor a causal relationship established between the chicken jerky products and the reports of illnesses/deaths. The FDA is actively investigating the matter and conducting analysis for multiple different chemical and microbiological contaminants. We have tested numerous samples of chicken jerky products for possible contaminants including melamine. The complaints received have been on various chicken jerky products but to date we have not detected any contaminants and therefore have not issued a recall or implicated any products. We are continuing to test and will notify the public if we find evidence of any contaminants.”

The FDA spokeswoman also says, “It's also important to note that not all complaints have been triaged and categorized yet at to what types of symptoms.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio