NBC News reports that Foster Farms announced Monday that they lowered levels of Salmonella in chicken parts — and invested $75 million to do it — even as the firm battles a food poisoning outbreak that has sickened nearly 600 people in more than a year.
According to NBC, most recent 10-week data shared with the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed that Salmonella levels in the firm’s chicken parts had dropped to 2 percent — far below the industry benchmark of 25 percent, Foster Farms officials said.
Perhaps it is time to redo our 2011 testing of contamination levels in chicken purchased in Seattle. Here were some of the results.
The study showed that up to 80% of Seattle area raw chicken could be contaminated with some form of potentially harmful bacteria. Testing done by IEH Laboratories in Lake Forest Park, Washington showed that 80 of 100 raw chickens purchased at various Seattle area grocery stores contained at least one potentially harmful pathogen.
The test was comprised of 18 brands of chicken purchased at 18 different Seattle area stores including chain grocery stores, Safeway (3 locations), Albertsons (2), QFC (4), Fred Meyer (2), Thriftway (1); warehouse clubs Costco (2) and Sam’s Club (1); natural foods stores Whole Foods (1) and PCC (1), and one small market, Ken’s Market (1).
In the study local and organic chicken did not prove to be safer than other samples. In terms of origination, 59 chicken samples originated from Washington, while 13 samples came from other states and 28 were of unknown origin. Regardless of place, chicken from every state tested was confirmed to contain potentially harmful bacteria. Of the 14 samples of organic chicken 12 contained harmful bacteria.
The study tested for five pathogens. While some findings were typical, other results were more surprising. Previous studies have found on average that 33 to 53% of chicken is contaminated with Campylobacter. In Seattle 65% of the chicken tested positive for Campylobacter. Salmonella was isolated in 19% of the chicken purchased at retail stores in the Seattle area, slightly higher than the expected average of 16%. Staphylococcus aureus was found in 42% of the chicken sampled; 10 of these samples were Methicillan-resistant, commonly known as MRSA. One sample cultured positive for Listeria monocytogenes and one sample cultured positive for E. coli O26, a bacteria often found in beef.