Antibiotics in chicken are out, but feces and E. coli are in, says a new study. The Physicians Council for Responsible Medicine (PRCM) tested chicken samples from 15 grocery stores nationwide and found that nearly half of the samples tested for the dangerous bacteria and feces.
The PRCM reports that it tested 22 nationally branded chicken products, including Pilgrim’s, Perdue, and Sanderson Farms. In some cities, like Dallas, all 100 percent of the samples tested positive for E. coli and feces. "Meat packers can’t avoid contaminating poultry products during production, and consumers are cooking and eating chicken feces in about half the cases," said PRCM president Neal Barnard, M.D. in a press release.
However, public health advocates, such as Dirk Fillpot from the Department of Agriculture, cited problems with the study's conclusions, saying the study was small and that the E. coli strain found isn't harmful to humans. It was also not a peer-reviewed study, the National Chicken Council pointed out in a statement. Calling the NRCM a "pseudo-medical, vegan advocacy group," the council said the study's claims were misleading; it said that production actually reduces bacteria found on chicken as it moves through the processing plant, and that the E. coli strain is impossible to determine where it is from. Said Ashley Peterson, vice president of science and technology for the NCC, "Their conclusion is disingenuous at best when looking at 57 questionable samples out of approximately 42 million pounds of ready-to-cook chicken products in grocery stores on any given day."
The PRCM said that skinless chicken was the most contaminated, and that even organic labelled products were found to have feces and E.coli on them.