Poultry bacteria study is inaccurate: USDA
A study by Consumer Reports in the US indicates that
eighty-three percent of chicken sold in US grocery stores may contain bacteria
that cause foodborne illnesses. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA),
however, says the study was flawed.
Consumer Reports says that the result is 34 percentage points higher than
the rate it found three years ago.
the report "junk scienceâ€.
Consumer Reports said tests on 525 chickens showed most of the poultry had
campylobacter or salmonella, two of the leading causes of food-borne diseases.
The testing was carried out on samples from leading brands including Perdue
, Pilgrim's Pride
and Tyson Foods
"We think it's really startling," said Jane Halloran, a policy director for
Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports
. "It's a very significant deterioration in
One major criticism was the study's small sample size. "There is virtually
nothing or any conclusion that anyone could draw from 500 samples," said Steven
Cohen, spokesman for the agency. "They're passing along junk science and calling
it an investigation."
Cohen said 11.4 percent of 8,000 broiler samples taken up until September
of this year tested positive for salmonella, which would mean a decrease from
16.3 percent in 2005 if that level is maintained for the rest of the year.
Cohen said the report did not go back to all the stores used in the 2003
report, which means that the data comparison is not reliable.
The department has not carried out a national prevalence study for
campylobacter in broilers, but plans to begin conducting one in late
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