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Outside plastic wrapping of chicken parts contaminated with Salmonella, E.coli

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Salmonella, E.coli, and other nasty bacteria that can make you sick is picked up just by touching the outside plastic wrapping of chicken packages in a food market. It makes no difference whether the label says organic, natural, free range, or other. If you check out a 2010 study led by scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the findings were that 13 percent of children younger than 3 years old were potentially exposed to raw meat just by riding in a grocery store shopping cart.

You don't even have to open the wrappings of the package of raw chicken, for example, or any other type of meat to get the bacteria on your hands. Then you arrive home, open the refrigerator, and the door handle becomes infected with the same bacteria that lasts for days on the handle, on top of all the other bacteria already on the handle of your refrigerator door, your sink knobs, and your dishes, glasses, and cups, spoons, forks, and knives.

You may wish to check out the February 2014 issue of Consumer Reports, which also may be in your public library. The article on page 30, "The High Cost of Cheap Chicken" is an eye-opener. According to the article, 97 percent of the packaged, food market-purchased chicken that were tested by Consumer Report's laboratory testing harbored bacteria that could make you sick. The article shows you how to protect yourself.

A lot of the bacteria on the chicken and also the inside and outside of the plastic wrappers covering the chicken came from fecal matter. I usually happens when the chicken feces gets on the skin of the chicken during the slaughtering process or in cases where the chickens are kept in cramped living spaces.

Since 48 million people fall sick every year from eating bacteria-tainted food, the Consumer Reports testing found that a particular strain of Salmonella bacteria known as the Heidelberg strain, which is drug-resistant, also was found on various packages of chicken and on the chicken. You also may wish to check out the news release, "New study identifies emergence of multidrug-resistant strain of salmonella."

Salmonella creates environment in human intestines to foster its own growth

Locally, here in Sacramento and Davis, a study led by researchers at the University of California - Davis has found how the bacteria Salmonella enterica — a common cause of food poisoning — exploits immune response in the human gut to enhance its own reproductive and transmission success. The strategy gives Salmonella a growth advantage over the beneficial bacteria that normally are present in the intestinal tract and promotes the severe diarrhea that spreads the bacteria to other people, according to a September 22, 2010 news release, "Salmonella creates environment in human intestines to foster its own growth."

The findings are published in the Sept. 23, 22010 issue of the journal Nature

"The human body normally has 10 times more microbes than human cells that help protect us against infection from disease-causing bacteria," said Andreas Bäumler, according to the news release, "Salmonella creates environment in human intestines to foster its own growth." Bäumler is a professor of medical microbiology and immunology at the UC Davis School of Medicine and the principal investigator of the study. "We have discovered Salmonella's cunning trick that allows it to quickly take over and outgrow the beneficial microbes in our intestine."

All bacteria must generate energy in order to live and reproduce, either by respiration — which usually requires oxygen — or fermentation. Because essentially no oxygen is available in our intestines, the beneficial bacteria that reside there tend to use fermentation, which is less efficient than respiration for obtaining energy.

When people ingest Salmonella, it invades the surface of the intestine. Our immune system responds by producing oxygen radicals to kill the bacteria. Although some Salmonella bacteria are killed by this response, many more benefit: the oxygen radicals create a sulfur compound called tetrathionate, which Salmonella are able to use instead of oxygen for respiration.

Interestingly, tetrathionate has been used since 1923 by microbiologists as a way to promote the growth of Salmonella in biological samples containing competing microbes. But because tetrathionate was not known to exist in living people, it was assumed prior to this study that this process had little relevance for food poisoning. Up until now, tetrathionate was believed to mainly exist naturally in decaying corpses or in thermal springs.

"Stimulating the host to produce tetrathionate enables Salmonella to 'breathe' in the intestine," said Sebastian E. Winter, who is a member of Bäumler's laboratory and lead author of the article, according to the news release. "This gives Salmonella a tremendous advantage over the gut bacteria that must grow by fermentation."

By stimulating an inflammatory response in the intestine, Salmonella also enhances its transmission to other hosts

The inflammatory response causes the severe diarrhea and vomiting that is the body's attempt to rid itself of the pathogenic bacteria, at the same time enabling Salmonella's spread. The investigators used a combination of experiments with mouse models and test tubes to study the effects of intestinal inflammation on Salmonella and pinpoint the role of tetrathionate respiration. They also used novel techniques from the burgeoning field of metabolomics, which allowed them to measure metabolites in living animals.

Salmonella is frequently in the news as a source of food poisoning outbreaks, usually from eating poorly cooked or unhygienically prepared eggs or meat. Salmonella was the cause of a recall of about half a billion eggs last August and sickened more than 1,500 people.

In that case, the ovaries of the hens were contaminated, so the inside of the eggs carried the bacteria and were not safe to eat unless thoroughly cooked

Reptiles such as turtles, lizards and snakes also carry the bacteria on their skin, sometimes causing illness in people who keep them as pets. Salmonella infection, known as salmonellosis, causes diarrhea, fever, vomiting and abdominal cramps. Although most people recover after several days, it may be fatal, especially in the elderly, infants, and people with an impaired immune system.

For most cases of salmonellosis, antibiotic treatment is counterproductive, as it actually prolongs disease by further inhibiting the growth of beneficial bacteria. Finding that tetrathionate is important in human Salmonella infection opens up new avenues for research in finding an effective treatment for salmonellosis. What what about the Heidelberg strain of Salmonella that's drug-resistant and has caused so much illness in the past year or two, found on packaged chicken breasts and other packged chicken parts? Check out the August 2, 2011 news release, "New study identifies emergence of multidrug-resistant strain of salmonella."

"Determining how Salmonella is so efficient in outcompeting resident beneficial bacteria is a critical first step in developing new drugs for treating food poisoning," said Bäumler, whose group is now pursuing this avenue of research, noted the news release. "We are hopeful that by targeting sulfur compounds we can stop the bacteria from establishing a foothold in the intestine."

Other UC Davis authors of the article are Parameth Thiennimitr, Maria G. Winter, Brian P. Butler, Douglas L. Huseby, Robert W. Crawford, Joseph M. Russell, Charles L. Bevins, Renée M. Tsolis, and John R. Roth. The other study author is L. Garry Adams from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University.

In the 2011 study explained in the August 2, 2011 news release, "New study identifies emergence of multidrug-resistant strain of salmonella," the new study has identified the recent emergence of a multidrug-resistant strain of Salmonella that has a high level resistance to ciprofloxacin, a common treatment for severe Salmonella infections. The study, led by François-Xavier Weill, MD, and Simon Le Hello, PharmD, at the Pasteur Institute in France, is published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases and is available online.

That 2011 study found that a multidrug-resistant strain of Salmonella, known as S. Kentucky, infected 489 patients in France, England and Wales, and Denmark between 2000 and 2008. Poultry appears to be a major vehicle for spreading these infections. And international public health surveillance systems are needed to limit the spread of such multidrug-resistant organisms.

Check out the article on the study in this PDF article, "International Spread of an Epidemic Population of Salmonella enterica Serotype Kentucky ST198 Resistant to Ciprofloxacin." You also may want to take a look at the PDF article, "Challenges and Opportunities to Identifying and Controlling the International Spread of Salmonella."

Bacteria also was found on packages of chicken marked as organic in the Consumer Reports study

You way want to see the sites, "Report Finds Harmful Bacteria On 97% Of Chicken - Forbes" and the NPR article site, "Organic Poultry Farms Have Fewer Drug-Resistant Bacteria, Study." There are too many super bugs in your chicken breasts.

A chicken superbug consisting of antibiotic-resistant bacteria (the Heidelberg strain of Salmonella) has been found in approximately half of raw chicken breasts sampled nationwide by Consumer Reports, leading the magazine to call for more stringent limitations on the use of medications for livestock. The new study says that about half of the raw chicken breasts in a nationwide sampling carried antibiotic-resistant "superbug" bacteria, according to Consumer Reports, which is a U.S. consumer group.

Consumer Reports describes itself as the world's largest independent product-testing organization, according to news reports from Reuters. In fact, Consumer Reports also called for stricter limits on use of the medicines on livestock, says a December 19, 2013 Fox News article, "Superbug' bacteria widespread in US chicken, consumer group finds."

You also can check out the images at the site, "Images of Chicken superbug." Or see, "Half of All Chicken Breasts in US Contain Superbug: Study." You also can check out some of the news videos of the chicken superbug.

The problem is chicken, that is raw chicken breasts containing the antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Consumer Reports did the independent product-testing of the raw chicken breasts. According to Consumer Reports, the group tested for six types of bacteria in 316 raw chicken breasts purchased from retailers nationwide during July 2013. Almost all of the samples contained potentially harmful bacteria, according to the December 19, 2013 Fox News article, "Superbug' bacteria widespread in US chicken, consumer group finds."

Nearly half the raw chicken breasts tested contained antibiotic-resistant bacteria

Some 49.7 percent carried a bacterium resistant to three or more antibiotics, according to the group, and 11 percent had two types of bacteria resistant to multiple drugs. Resistance was most common for the antibiotics used for growth promotion and disease treatment of poultry.

The problem with antibiotics given to animals such as chicken is that people eating the meat also get the antibiotic in their own systems, which then leads to resistance to antibiotics in case the people have a need for antibiotics, that is if they get an infection or have surgery that requires being given an antibiotic. The issue is that the antibiotics won't work any more because the people become resistant to them having ingested the antibiotics in the various types of meat such as the chicken breasts, even after cooking, frying, grilling, or baking.

Consumer Reports urged passage of a law to restrict eight classes of antibiotics for use only to treat humans and sick animals. The law would be more effective, it said, than the Food and Drug Administration's plan, announced last week, to phase down the non-medical use of antibiotics in livestock over three years, according to the Fox News article.

How much bacteria is allowed in chicken?

You always can check out the FDA's levels for allowable salmonella and campylobacter bacteria in poultry. But currently inspectors still don't have the authority to stop sales of poultry meat that contains salmonella bacteria that is resistant to multiple antibiotics. So the consumer is left to buy what's available.

If you look at who eats chicken, the statistics say that chicken is the most widely consumed meat in the United States, not beef, fish, turkey, duck, or pork or any other meat or game. When it comes to chicken, people in the USA are predicted to eat nearly 84 pounds per person in 2014, compared to 53 lbs of pounds of beef and 48 pounds of pork. Some of these statistics come from the chicken broiler industry.

Eventually over the coming years, the FDA's planned phase-down of antibiotics will trickle down to those who produce chickens for national consumption, including supplying the eateries. But in the meantime, the chickens are continuing to get the antibiotics.

When you cook chicken or any other poultry to at least 165 degrees F (73.8C) to kill bacteria and when you keep a separate cutting board for meat and other foods such as vegetables and breads or dough, at least you keep the bacteria from the meat away from other non-meat foods. Bacteria gets around from putting the chicken on cutting boards you share with other foods. Bacteria also gets transferred from your hands to other foods when you touch the raw meat.

The reason why you don't want to eat chicken fed or vaccinated with antibiotics is that when the antibiotics get into your system, it gets more difficult to treat you if you get sick because than your body also is full of antibiotic-resistant bacteria...just like the chicken had.

Consumer Reports had the raw chicken breasts tested for six types of bacteria in 316 raw chicken breasts purchased from retailers nationwide during July 2013. Almost all of the samples contained potentially harmful bacteria, the type of super bug that would be resistant to antibiotics.

What consumers would like to know is why isn't the Department of Agriculture setting levels for salmonella and campylobacter bacteria in poultry?

Americans are forecast to consume nearly 84 pounds per person in 2014, compared to 53 lbs of pounds of beef and 48 pounds of pork, according to the poultry industry that sells chickens called broilers.

The industry is cooperating with the FDA's plan to get rid of some of the antibiotics over a period of a few years. But shoppers who eat chicken at home or in restaurants want the changes to happen sooner than three years or so in the future.

Organic chicken is different than free-range chicken

Organic chicken must be fed only certified organic feed, which is grown without artificial fertilizers or pesticides, from the time they are two days old. They may not receive hormones or antibiotics at any time. But chickens can get their vaccinations to prevent common chicken diseases.

For free-range chicken, the poultry may be kept inside temporarily for specific purposes like medical treatment or to protect the quality of soil or water, but organic chickens must be given reasonable access to the outdoors if they are to qualify for certification as free-range.

In order to label chicken as free-range, producers must demonstrate through affidavits or testimonials that their poultry have free, continuous access to the outdoors for more than half of their lives. The free-range label can be given even if those chickens aren't let outside. The loophole is that the chickens only need the option to go outside, but the farmer/rancher doesn't have to let them go out. But many chicken producers think a free range certification should only apply if the chickens actually are let outside. How chickens are treated are up to the people working at the chicken farm.

With organic chicken, it's about the organic food the chicken gets to eat. Many organic chickens are treated humanely. The issue comes up when organic chickens also get to go outside a lot and enjoy the fresh air and what's on the ground to peck at. Again, treatment is in the hands of the humans who raise the chickens. A certified organic chicken or eggs is about what the chicken gets to eat and whether the chicken's food is organic. But again, organic chickens aren't supposed to get hormones or antibiotics, just the vaccinations they get and are supposed to be fed only certified organic foods.

You never know when you'll need an antibiotic to work. So you don't want to build up resistance to antibiotics by eating them in animals. How would you be able to fight a super bug if the drugs aren't working because of what you ate? On the other hand, you might add organic meatless meals to your diet. Whatever your eating habits, there are sources of organic chicken, if you eat a lot of chicken and don't want the antibiotics in you if those antibiotics make you resistant to super bug-type of bacteria.

The question consumers ponder is why are chickens more expensive when they don't get hormones or antibiotics and are fed organic foods? That leaves the poorest people or those who shop frugally at the mercy of the industry. You might wish to research testing studies done on organic chicken compared to free-range chicken as to what type of bacteria may have been found. See the sites, "Report Finds Harmful Bacteria On 97% Of Chicken - Forbes" and the NPR article site, "Organic Poultry Farms Have Fewer Drug-Resistant Bacteria, Study."

Check out sites such as "Organic Soy-free Chicken - grassfedtraditions.com " and "Free Range Chicken | Certified Organic Chicken - Mercola.com." Or see the site, "What Makes Organic Chicken Organic? | Whole Foods Market." See sites such as, "The Difference Between Organic & Free-Range Chicken" and "Shop Organic Prairie Chicken" or "Applegate - Simple Ingredients. No Antibiotics - applegate.com."

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