June 17, 2021

Tucker Carlson’s Chicken Snuggling Bit Omits Salmonella Outbreak

OPINION

Fox News Host Tucker Carlson did a segment on Friday night about a CDC news release entitled CDC Investigating New Outbreaks of Salmonella Infections Linked to Backyard Poultry. One thing missing from the 4:47 minute piece? Any mention of the Salmonella outbreak linked to backyard poultry flocks.

Instead of telling his viewers that ongoing Salmonella outbreaks had been linked to contact with backyard poultry and what they could do to protect themselves, Carlson framed the segment as though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just randomly decided to tell people who “snuggle” chickens how to live their lives.
Salmonella Attorney- Tucker Carlson Omits Outbreak Language

“Like all obedient Americans, we’re pretty dialed in to what the CDC has to say about our lives. Every day we check for new guidance and we have new guidance. For once, it has nothing to do with the coronavirus. This guidance from the CDC is about chickens. The CDC is warning Americans about chickens and we’re quoting now don’t kiss or snuggle backyard poultry and don’t eat or drink around them,” Carlson began the segment. “That raises the question who are these chicken touchers that the CDC is concerned about? We’re not judging as we ask that. We’d just like to know. Are there people in this country who snuggle chickens? There are, we found one. Here she is,” Carlson said, before rolling a clip dated 2016 of a young woman identified in the chyron as “Tiara, 27, chicken enthusiast.”

When the clip was done, present-day Tiara Soleim appeared on-screen holding a rooster. (The 2016 footage was from her┬áturn as a contestant on the 20th season of the ABC show The Bachelor.) “It feels like you’ve been singled out by the CDC for criticism. How does that feel?” Carlson asked. Soleim, who keeps a flock of 30 chickens, said she wasn’t a fan of the advice. Carlson said humans have a long history with poultry and, overlooking poultry farmers and family farms in rural America who have been keeping poultry for hundreds of years, added that Soleim is just living the way people used to live.

“Why are they coming after you now, the CDC?” Carlson asked. “I think that maybe they’re just looking for something else to control,” she said, adding, again “And I’m not a fan.”

What the CDC is trying to control is the spread of disease that is disproportionately affecting young children. Most often, that’s who snuggles and kisses chicks and ducks. Or pets them and then puts their fingers in their mouths. This age group is also more likely than the general population to suffer severe illness if they contract a Salmonella infection.

Had Carlson elected not to skip over the eight “key facts” listed first in the news release, his viewers would have known that one-third of the people sickened in this outbreak are children. So far,163 people in 43 states have been sickened and thirty-four people have been hospitalized. But it is still early in the season. Last year, a Salmonella outbreak linked to backyard flocks included illnesses in all 50 states, 1,722 illnesses were reported, 333 people were hospitalized and one person died.

CDC Backyard Poultry Guidance

Over the last decade, keeping backyard flocks of chickens, ducks and geese has become increasingly popular among Americans, according to the CDC. Many people keep chickens for their fresh eggs. But as the popularity of this practice has increased so has the number of Salmonella illnesses associated with handling these birds. Since 2011, there have 15 multistate Salmonella outbreaks associated with backyard poultry flocks. Together these outbreaks have sickened at least 6,877 illnesses, 1,471 hospitalizations, and 10 deaths.

The CDC is the federal agency charged with protecting the public from health threats. When it issues a news release about an outbreak of illness, it isn’t “coming after” a chicken-loving former Bachelor contestant. It’s making people aware of a risk and offering advice on what they can do to keep themselves and their families safe. That’s its job.

Salmonella Outbreaks linked to backyard poultry 2011-2021

Food Safety Attorney Fred Pritzker is the founder of Pritzker Hageman law firm and publisher of Food Poisoning Bulletin.

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