Talk Turkey – “to discuss a problem in a serious way with a real intention to solve it”.

In 2008 and 2009 I commissioned a 5,000-sample $500,000 baseline study of the prevalence of non-O157 Shiga-Toxin E. coli.  I will spare you the outcome, but you can download the PowerPoint and sample results that I shared with the USDA FSIS.

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In March of this year we decided to test chicken.  All the chicken in the 100 chicken IEH Labs survey, which included whole fryers and packages of chicken parts, was collected and tested from March 1 to April 4 from Seattle area grocery stores. The chicken was purchased from Fred Meyer, Safeway, QFC, Whole Foods, Costco, Sam’s Club, Albertsons, Thriftway, PCC Natural Markets and Ken’s Market stores.

IEH Labs found S. aurea, or staph, in 42 percent of the samples overall and Campylobacter in 65 percent. The supermarket chicken was contaminated with other pathogens as well: 19 percent of the samples tested positive for Salmonella, one tested positive for Listeria, and 10 percent showed the presence of the methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA). In an unusual finding, one of the chicken samples tested positive for E. coli 026, Shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC) bacteria more likely to be a contaminant of beef than poultry. Organic Chicken proved to be slightly less contaminated than nonorganic with 7 of the 13 (54%) testing positive for harmful bacteria.

So, now it is time to test turkey.  We know we have a problem.  The time for talking is past.  I will be doing 500 samples over the next weeks (no, not just focused on Cargill).  I will report back.