September 25, 2021

Chicken and Salmonella is Focus of Consumer Reports Recommendations

With the new Salmonella outbreak linked to frozen raw breaded stuffed chicken breasts in mind, Consumer Reports is issuing their recommendations on the problem of chicken and Salmonella in this country. The article focuses on the tragic story of Noah C., a child sickened in the 2013 Foster Farms’s chicken Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak that also sickened more than 600 Americans.

Chicken and Salmonella is Focus of Consumer Reports Recommendations

The child suffered a severe infection that caused a brain abscess. He had to undergo brain surgery and faced, and still faces, a daunting recovery. The law firm of Pritzker Hageman, which underwrites Food Poisoning Bulletin, represented Noah and his family and obtained a $6.5 million verdict against Foster Farms, which attributed 30% of the fault to the huge poultry processor.

Consumer Reports writes that chicken and turkey account for 20% of Salmonella infections in this country, according to the latest stats available, from 2018. And poultry accounts for an alarming 67% of Campylobacter infections in the U.S.

The USDA allows almost 10% of Salmonella contaminated whole chickens to be sold in this country. For chicken parts, the percentage is 15.4%, and for ground chicken, 25%. These standards are set based on a “risk assessment process” that the government has decided meets public health goals.

After that 2013 outbreak, Foster Farms committed to limiting Salmonella to 5% or less of its whole chickens and chicken parts, and the poultry industry invested millions of dollars to improve safety. In 2020, 8% of chicken samples overall teated positive for Salmonella. But as Consumer Reports points out, that means 3.6 billion pounds of Salmonella contaminated chicken was still sold in 2020.

Indeed, there have not been any recalls of Foster Farms chicken for Salmonella since that outbreak. But that doesn’t mean that chicken is safe. In addition to the current Salmonella outbreak, in 2019 a Salmonella Infantis outbreak linked to raw chicken sickened at least 129 people in 32 states. In 2018, a kosher chicken Salmonella outbreak sickened at least 25 people in six states.

Consumer Reports, along with Center for Science in the Public Interest and Stop Foodborne Illness, is calling for the USDA to lower the percentage of poultry samples that are allowed to test positive for Salmonella and Campylobacter. They also want the agency to strictly regulate the most dangerous strains of the pathogen and to strive for a zero-tolerance policy, as it did for E. coli O157:H7 in 1993 after the deadly Jack-in-the-Box burger outbreak. Seventeen percent of Salmonella infections in this country are caused by dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

At the present time, consumers are the last line of defense against Salmonella food poisoning related to chicken. The meat must be handled with care, not allowed to cross-contaminate other foods, and be cooked to safe final internal temperatures. But that is a heavy burden to place on the home cook. Noah’s mom told Consumer Reports, “Unfortunately, I now have to handle chicken like toxic waste.”

The Food Poisoning Attorneys At Pritzker Hageman 1-888-377-8900

If you or a loved one have been sickened with a Salmonella infection, please contact our experienced lawyers for help at 1-888-377-8900 or 612-338-0202.

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