May 25, 2024

Chickens From Farmers Markets May Have More Pathogenic Bacteria

A study conducted at Penn State has found that raw, whole chickens from farmers markets throughout that state had “significantly higher levels of bacteria that can cause foodborne illness compared to those purchased from grocery stores in the region.” Out of 100 whole chickens purchased at farmers markets, 90% tested positive for Campylobacter and 28% for Salmonella.

Raw whole chickenDuring the same time period, 28% of raw, whole, organic chickens bought at grocery stores had Campylobacter, and 20% tested positive for Salmonella. And 52% of raw, whole, non-organic, conventionally processed chickens from grocery stores had Campylobacter and 8% had Salmonella bacteria.

Dr. Catherine Cutter, professor and food safety extension specialist at the University, said, “some people believe that local food is safer, but we want to caution that’s not always the case.” Consumers are buying more food locally. Concerns about antibiotic resistance and animal-welfare issues in large factory farms may partially explain the switch. This small study should be replicated, Dr. Cutter said.

A survey was developed for poultry vendors to find out what caused this discrepancy. The researchers in this study think that antimicrobial interventions during processing, which are used on chickens processed from large farms, are not being used at individual farms. The univeristy is preparing educational materials and food safety training for vendors selling poultry products at farmers markets.

These results stress the fact that consumers should treat all raw meats as potentially contaminated, and handle them with care. Thorough cooking of poultry to a temperature of 165 degrees F as confirmed by a food thermometer, hand-washing, cleaning surfaces and utensils, and avoiding cross-contamination are all key to keeping your family safe from food poisoning.


  1. Interesting study. However , it was done by the Pennsylvania State University , which is located in the center of PA. The University of Pennsylvania (Penn) is located in Philadelphia, PA.

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