Like a little fecal bacteria with your ground turkey? (Sorry, you don’t get a choice…)

  • Published on May 2nd, 2013


I don’t know about you, but given the choice, I prefer my meat WITHOUT fecal bacteria.

Unfortunately, a new Consumer Reports study implies that we DON’T have a choice. When it comes to ground  turkey, pretty much your only choice is “with”.

Consumer reports tested 257 samples. That covered 21 states and included both by-the-pound ground turkey and ready-made patties.

And they found that more than 90% were contaminated by at least one of the five types of bacteria they tested for, which included such appetizing nasties as E. coli and salmonella.

Even worse, they found that most of those bacteria were resistant to one or more antibiotics. In case you’ve missed this bit of arrant stupidity, large factory farms often give their animals massive doses of antibiotics to keep them healthy in their (literally) shit-encrusted environment. And this is in turn feeding a tiny evolutionary revolution among some of our worst disease-causing pests, driving them to develop antibiotic resistance to the point that we may no longer be able to cure some basic infections in a few years.

For instance, three of the CR-tested samples were adulterated by a variety of staphylococcus aureus bacteria that had developed resistance to our last line of defense against it, methicillin. Infection with that stuff is often fatal.

And the reaction of the turkey growers? You can bet it wasn’t “OMG, we must deal with this at once!”

Nope: The National Turkey Federation lived up to its name, declaring:

“Consumer Reports had the opportunity to foster a serious, thoughtful discussion about food safety, but instead it chose to sensationalize findings and mislead people.”

60 percent of the samples were contaminated by E. Coli. Three were contaminated by bacteria that is often fatal. I don’t think you could possibly sensationalize that any more.

And what’s even more obnoxious – it was just one month ago that Food Safety news reported that a slow Government Response to 2011 Salmonella Ground Turkey Outbreak led to preventable illness. Maybe it’s high time we had a little more sensationalism.

I wasn’t thrilled to learn from Consumer Reports that the USDA allows up to 50 percent of samples to be contaminated with salmonella.

The salmonella coin flip: It’s the new normal.

The good news (sort of) – if you get organic turkey, you’re much less likely to get the nasty antibiotic-resistant turkey (since organic farms aren’t supposed to use that shit). The bad news: Even the organic stuff was just as likely to have SOME sort of bacterial contamination.

If you plan on serving turkey burgers any time soon, make sure they’re WELL done.

(Pretty purple and pink salmonella image via Food Safety News.)




About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.