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Another reason not to eat (or even touch) factory farmed chicken: Campylobacter
Britian's Food Standards Agency has issued a new warning: "Campylobacter is a serious issue. Not only can it cause severe illness and death, but it costs the economy hundreds of millions of pounds a year as a result of sickness." It's so bad, the FSA urges people not to even wash chicken at home because splashing water spreads the dangerous bacteria all over the kitchen. It is being recommended that US "consumers" of chicken don't even touch the packaging of chicken in grocery stores, but rather use gloves to prevent contamination. So the obvious question is, do you really want to eat something you can't even safely touch?
The FSA-UK says that "Campylobacter is the most common form of food poisoning in the UK, affecting an estimated 280,000 people a year." (How does that number translate to the much more populous, and chicken consuming US?)
The survey commissioned by the FSA found that levels of awareness of campylobacter are well below that of other forms of food poisoning. More than 90% of the public have heard of salmonella and E.coli, whereas only 28% of people know about campylobacter. Furthermore, of the people who have heard of campylobacter, only 31% of them know that poultry is the main source of the bacteria.
Ann Edwards, 67, from Hertfordshire contracted campylobacter in 1997 and is still living with the consequences today. She said: 'After contracting campylobacter poisoning, I was ill for a week before being admitted to hospital with bladder failure. I couldn’t eat and was so de-hydrated that I lost almost two stones in weight. Shortly after, I developed Guillain-Barré syndrome which left me paralysed from the chest down. I was in hospital for seven weeks and even now – 17 years later – I have no movement in my toes and rely on a walking stick. Physically, it has been the worst thing that has ever happened to me. I urge anyone who is handling chicken to take care.
The USDA says Campylobacter is the second-most reported source of foodborne illness in the US. Yet the USDA only implemented the first-ever standards for Campylobacter in 2010. Knowing what we know about US animal food safety, those standards, while improving things, are likely geared as much toward reassuring consumers, and thereby assisting the chicken industry, as they are toward making a real and significant difference in human sickness caused by chicken as a food product.
For instance, the USDA straight up claims that "The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is the public health agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture responsible for ensuring that the nation’s commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged." Anyone who pays attention knows that the FSIS doesn't *ensure* anything. Hundreds of thousands of people in the US contract foodborne illnesses every year, and that will continue as long as the US government is in the pockets of big agri-business.
Symptoms of the sickness include abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, vomiting and food poisoning. Researchers found that washing the poultry under tap water can spread the bacteria more than three feet.
What's more, researchers claim people can catch the bacteria simply by picking up a packet of chicken in the grocery store. It is therefore recommended that chicken eaters use a produce bag as glove to pick up packages of raw meat, and then wrap the package in the bag. That is thought to help keep hands -- and the other contents of the shopping cart -- safer.
Or, you can just stop eating chicken!
Learn More About Chicken:
Food and Water Watch
Humane Society of the US