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Posted on: April 29, 2019 at 5:22 pm

A group that stands for our consumer advocacy rights is pushing the US government to require meat distributors to label their products with “may contain fecal matter”, before they are sent out to grocery stores.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is made up of over 12,000 physicians, whose mission includes promoting plant-based diets and ethical scientific research.

While the US Department of Agriculture already has a zero-tolerance policy for fecal material on meat and poultry, these advocates are still pushing for the label because as you will soon see, the current inspection policy is not very effective.

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In the case of poultry, the USDA has relaxed its rules on the speed of which facilities can process birds. A past requirement allowed up to 140 birds per minute, but this number has since been raised to 175 birds per minute. While there’s a zero tolerance policy for fecal matter, with about three birds being processed per second, it’s near impossible for the naked eye to even comprehend.

The PCRM has been asking questions for the last six years in regards to the fecal matter found in the birds we eat on a daily basis. On April 16 2019, the group filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture, for ignoring concerns over fecal contamination of chicken and other meat.

This lawsuit quotes a federal inspector who said, “We often see birds going down the line with intestines still attached, which are full of fecal contamination. If there is no fecal contamination on the bird’s skin, however, we can do nothing to stop that bird from going down that line.

It is more than reasonable to assume that once the bird gets into the chill tank (a large vat of cold water), that contamination will enter the water and contaminate all of the other carcasses in the chiller. That’s why it is sometimes called ‘fecal soup.’”

Nobody wants to eat feces. Especially when we consider those harmful microbes like E. coli are found in fecal matter. This raises a major red flag, and yet the USDA is still not giving straight answers about their food inspection procedures.

In this recent lawsuit, the PCRM also included how the USDA violated its Freedom of Information Act. They failed to respond to the groups FOIA request back in 2017. Initially, the group had requested “records regarding the number of USDA poultry inspectors, detection rates for visible fecal contamination in poultry, average poultry line speed, USDA poultry inspection rates, and inspection training.” But they were never responded to. Now According to the Digital Media Law Project, Federal law requires agencies to respond to FOIA requests within 20 days of receiving them.

So exactly how much of our meat is contaminated with fecal matter?

The PCRM tested chicken products and found that 48% tested positive fecal contamination. This type of contamination isn’t new either, in 2013 Consumer Reports found that more than half of the raw ground meat and patties tested positive for fecal bacteria and about half of the chicken samples contained at least one bacterium that was resistant to three or more antibiotics, commonly referred to as a “superbug.”

Safety and sustainability of our food supply should be a bigger concern to the government and population, however, the root causes of these problems have still yet to be addressed. Until effective solutions are found and implemented, food safety will only continue to be compromised.

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Thankfully we have groups like the PCRM, made up of more than 12,000 physicians with and 175,000 dedicated members across the world. While this lawsuit will face an

uphill battle in court – Reform is possible. You can support those who are taking action by signing up for Action Alerts with PCRM.

Read the full news release here on the PCRM website

  1. Doctors Sue USDA for Ignoring Concerns Over Fecal Contamination of Chicken https://www.pcrm.org/news/news-releases/doctors-sue-usda-ignoring-concerns-over-fecal-contamination-chicken
  2. It’s legal for your meat to have trace amounts of fecal matter. A group of doctors want to change that https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/17/health/usda-fecal-matter-in-meat-trnd/index.html
  3. Consumer Reports: Potentially Harmful Bacteria Found on 97 Percent Of Chicken Breasts Tested https://www.consumerreports.org/media-room/press-releases/2013/12/consumer-reports-potentially-harmful-bacteria-found-on-97-percent-of-chicken-breasts-tested/
  4. Privatized Inspection System Produces More Contaminated Chicken https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/news/privatized-inspection-system-produces-more-contaminated-chicken

 

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