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Mark Bittman's Rhetorical Question: Should You Eat Chicken?

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/16/opi...

What say you, Chowhounds? I don't eat poultry anyway so it's a non issue for me. Curious if any of you omnivores are taking a break in light of the recent salmonella outbreak.

Cheers.

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  1. I'm the least germophobic person I know. And lived in a "magic house" before Sam invented the term. But I'm concerned about this. I currently have no chicken in the freezer. As big a cheapskate as I can be I'm leaning heavily toward buying from local producers. As Bittman said, until the govt. does something, we're taking in my opinion, an unacceptable risk. Just me.

    3 Replies
    1. re: c oliver

      Short answer; NO.

      The chicken industry is shooting itself in the foot if they think they're saving money because a few more of these incidents and the industry could take a huge hit. The thing is, it's only getting worse. Fewer USDA inspectors, faster kill lines, "self regulation" or selective testing (HIMP), and that sort of thing.

      http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpo...

      http://www.foodwhistleblower.org/the-...

      1. re: c oliver

        We also buy from local producers whenever possible. I have chickens and ducks raised by a local farmer in the freezer.

        Since I only eat poultry and fish I am concerned but not alarmed.

        CSAs may benefit from this. Not knowing where your food comes from is unsettling. Especially when you eat out. Some restaurants buy from local farms but they probably can't source enough locally to meet their needs.

        1. re: financialdistrictresident

          Our favorite restaurant at this point probably has two dozen local sources for their foods. It's something they strongly support and part of the reason we support them. And they make almost everything inhouse.

      2. I eat a ton of chicken, should be interesting. I'm interested to hear others thoughts.

        1. I eat a chicken often and the recent outbreak doesn't change anything for me. I've known for a long time that raw chicken can contain pathogens, so I am careful to follow safe handling procedures and to cook it thoroughly.

          I don't go along with Bittman on his criticism of the FSIS. I think they have been handling this incident properly. It may be that the regulations should be more stringent, but in the meantime the FSIS must apply the regulations they have. They can't just make up rules as they go along. Regulatory bodies must follow proper rule-making procedure.

          I've read that there are about a million cases of salmonellosis a year in the US. This outbreak is a small part of that. It is probably impossible to eliminate salmonella from our food supply, so even if regulations are tightened, and recalls required for the most dangerous strains of salmonella, it would still be prudent to follow safe-handling protocols for poultry.

          33 Replies
          1. re: GH1618

            GH. I think there are two ways to look at this.

            1) Stop eating chicken because they are dangerous (more dangerous)

            or

            2) Stop eating chicken as a way to express and boycott the industry.

            I am concern about the chicken industry practice, but not concern enough to stop eating chicken. That is just me -- for now.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              What about the third way, which to clean up the industry which in the US is so focused on profit that it is compromising the health of consumers? It's not like there is no choice.

            2. re: GH1618

              I totally agree with you. Salmonella is endemic in our food supply. Clean your hands. Clean and disinfect your cutting boards and utensils. Cook your food to the proper internal temperature, And recently I read that washing your chicken before cooking actually spreads salmonella, so just pat it dry with paper towels.

              I think the government and Foster Foods handled this outbreak appropriately. The onus lies with the end user, namely US.

              1. re: elegraph

                I was not aware that the government did anything other than alert the public.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    No, they also increased the inspections, demanded process improvements, and threatened to close the plant if the improvements were not made in a timely manner.

                    1. re: GH1618

                      Did you read the article I linked to?

                      I guess I missed the things you reference.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        I did not. I don't generally read HuffPo. I did read the enforcement letter from FSIS to Foster Farms. I prefer primary sources.

                        http://www.marlerblog.com/files/2013/...

                          1. re: c oliver

                            That has something to do with beef. Off topic. And what I am citing is the FSIS letter, not the blog which posted it.

                            1. re: GH1618

                              Food. From what I've read that court ruling is used for chicken also.

                    2. re: c oliver

                      I'm with you, c Oliver. Seems we should take a cue from Sweden.

                      1. re: globocity

                        And thanks for bringing that up. Sweden has what about 1% and we're at 66%ish? So there's plenty to do.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          Where is the consumer outrage? Seems that is the only thing that will light the fire under the arse if out government.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              I'm sorry, but excuse me?

                              How many people have died from this current salmonella incident?

                              Bittman in his article cites to none, and there are no reported deaths that I am aware of being reported. (And the most recent data from the CDC shows that for 2009-10 there were 5 deaths related to salmonella http://www.cdc.gov/features/dsfoodbor... That's 5 in a 2 year period. I'm guessing more toddlers died from accidental drownings in bathtubs during that same time frame.).

                              Now, one can say that 1 death is 1 too many (especially if it's a loved one) but in the grand scheme if things it doesn't even rise to the level of a rounding error.

                              (And that inane example Bittman provides of possibly dying from salmonella is just as likely as dying from a deep gash on your arm. So please, hold the hysteria).

                              In the larger context of food relate problems like world hunger, food deserts, etc. salmonella just isn't worth getting riled up over.

                              It's like throwing a tissy-fit over a hangnail when your arm is broken.

                              I am outraged that millions of children go to bed hungry every night in this country.

                              But this? This, I don't even give another thought to during those moments of contemplation while sitting on the toilet waiting for nature and gravity to converge.

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                As I've said before, I'm referring to the organism, the pathogen if you will. Food borne illnesses are grossly underreported. But the fact that 2/3 of the chickens in the US have salmonella vs. one tenth of one percent in Sweden is atrocious. It shows yet again that the government has sold out to Big Ag. And sharing your toilet habits brings nothing to the argument, IMO.

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  Sweden does some things better than we in the US do. There are likely many countries with more contaminated food than ours. We are not going to model our agricultural practices after Sweden's, so the important question is what improvements should be made to poultry production in the US to make it safer.

                                  1. re: GH1618

                                    What are Sweden's agricultural practice and why aren't we going to model ours after theirs? Sincerely asking. Obviously we need to do something. As a government.

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      You can read about the Swedish poultry industry and its Salmonella prevention measures here:

                                      http://www.svenskfagel.se/?p=2216

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        Thank you. Allow me to repeat:

                                        why aren't we going to model ours after theirs?

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          Sweden's debt to GDP ratio is 38% and falling. The United States' debt to GDP is 100% and rising.

                                          1. re: GH1618

                                            GDP ratios aren't really relevant here, right? This isn't a question of macroeconomic policy and the evolution of capitalism. It's about whether the US will continue to tolerate the salmonella infection levels of poultry in the US, when the trends are that it is getting worse. I think the answer is "no" but it's an issue of timing, given that poultry manufacturers have a lot of influence on consumer opinion.

                                            The Sweden example shows that the state of poultry production in the US is the product of choice, not of necessity. The reason we choose to adopt our current standards is that we like really cheap chicken. But antibiotic-resistant salmonella strains are not a minor issue.

                                            1. re: calumin

                                              This is most definitely not the place to discuss politics and economics, but when you raise the question of whether and how government should overhaul the production of chicken in the US, that's what you're getting into. It isn't going to happen in my lifetime, so it's pointless to debate it.

                                              I expect improvements in reducing pathogens in chicken will be made from time to time, if public health warrants it, and especially if public opinion demands it, but not to the extent of making chicken salmonella-free.

                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                To me that smacks of if we can't fix it completely then we shouldn't do anything. Aim low and achieve even lower. Aim high and that lower is better. Does that make sense?

                                          2. re: c oliver

                                            c,

                                            I was going to respond to your initial point about Sweden, but what little Chowhound discretion I have, got the better of me.

                                            I suppose i could have refuted your argument point-by-point and made it a complete mockery, but I just felt it wasn't really necessary to elevate this discussion to the point of argument, much less disagreement and animosity. I enjoy my discourse I've had with you, and hope to continue to do so -- either in a serious discussion or (as you put it) with an "ipse factor".

                                            Suffice to say, you have your position about why the US should model it's poultry system after Sweden's, and so be it. More power to you and you are fully entitled to that position. But if the fulcrum of your argument is why the US can't be (more?) like Sweden, then really you and are speaking on different planes. It would be like us trying to figure out how many corners a circle has.

                                            In any event, keep up the good fight c.

                                            Cheers, and Go Sweden!

                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              Thanks, ipse. An adult way to handle it. And, yes, I've more than once been criticized for being too idealistic, expecting more out of people (and govts.) than I'm ever going to see. I can live with that :)

                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                Hey! I take offense to being called an adult ...

                                                Talk to you on another thread.

                                        2. re: c oliver

                                          Perhaps you should write your Congressman. But lately, they haven't been able to keep the government running on all cylinders.

                                          1. re: GH1618

                                            But that doesn't mean we just throw in the towel. I was listening to a program on NPR and it was suggesting that rather than writing one's congressperson to get involved in a program that you're passionate about That's more likely to effect change. Also we could stop buying tanks that the generals don't want.

                                        3. re: GH1618

                                          Well, China is much more contaminated, but increasingly, we're buying food an drugs from them, or constituent ingredients unlabeled as Chinese.

                                          1. re: mcf

                                            fwiw, i'm doing my best to NOT be part of the group that is buying food and drugs from china.
                                            (additionally i don't buy cookware or dish-ware that was produced in china)
                                            found a source for US grown organic edamame, my latest quest.
                                            read labels religiously.

                                            i'm sure something must have slipped through my sieve, but i am all-out trying here.

                                            1. re: westsidegal

                                              Moi, aussi. The problem is that there are so many constituents in food products that come from or have been processed in, China that it's hard to avoid.

                                              Doing my best, at least where I know what something is and contains, too.

                      2. I'll add that just because Costco claims its rotisserie chicken is cooked at 180 °F, that doesn't mean it has been properly cooked. Chicken must reach an internal temperature of 165 °F everywhere for ten minutes to meet FSIS standards. An independent inspector must verify that their cooking procedure meets this standard before I'll believe it.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: GH1618

                          The Los Angeles Times reported that the Costco location which cooked the chicken which was recalled cooks about 1000 birds per day. It could be that their procedure is safe but that the proper procedure wasn't followed for some of the product. Mistakes are more likely when a system is overloaded.

                          1. re: GH1618

                            It also doesn't mean that it hasn't been touched with utensils, hands, etc. that were not heated.

                            1. re: GH1618

                              Speaking of Costco - I was appalled, frankly, when I went to Costco the day after the chicken story broke. Ralph's had pulled all their Foster Farms chickens, and the news story I read said that the chickens had been pulled from every grocery and Costco in a voluntary recall. I went to Costco to see if I could get some fish or something for dinner instead, and they had a fully stocked chicken case, rotisseries, etc. Surprised, I asked the man restocking the meats, "Oh, I thought the chickens were recalled!" hoping to hear news that the recall was over, and got instead: "No. There was no recall" in a tone that implied I was a paranoid idiot. "I thought there was; Ralph's pulled all their chicken." "No recall. You just have to make sure you cook it really, really well, and it should be fine. Just cook it a lot."

                              I was flabbergasted - not just that Costco would decide NOT to pull their chicken when every other store had, but that their advice is to just cook it to death?? I did not buy chicken that visit, and I am not a suit-happy person, but if I had bought chicken and gotten sick, I would have sued them in a heartbeat. I think I'm just astounded that we all just sort of accept, "oh well, chicken is diseased" and go about our business as if there is no solution...

                              1. re: thursday

                                It wasn't all Costco stores, but only in the area where the contaminated chickens were found.

                                1. re: thursday

                                  The advice to "cook it really, really well, and it should be fine" is ironic, given that the two recalls Costco made for this store was for chicken products which they are claiming were all cooked to 180 degrees.

                              2. I expect that poultry producers are more strongly motivated to deliver a safe product because of plaintiffs' attorneys rather than FSIS standards. Parasitic as they are, they occasionally serve a useful purpose.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Veggo

                                  Hey Veggo: "...plaintiffs' attorneys... occasionally serve a useful purpose."

                                  Wait a minute. I resemble that remark! Or, as Groucho, in dictating a letter to his attorneys, instructed" "Gentlemen. Question mark."

                                  Aloha,
                                  Kaleo

                                2. http://www.nbcnews.com/health/costco-...

                                  Another 47,000# of chicken from the same Costco. It appears to be after cooking that the problem occurs. But if we weren't having these high rates and if they weren't pumping these birds so full of antibiotics, I have to believe the situation would improve

                                  1. In a word, no.
                                    Especially not if you're in california or the affected western states right now.
                                    But in general i'm going with no.

                                    1. There will be days when I will be sick.

                                      There will come a day when I will die.

                                      Whether I eat chicken or not will change neither of those two things.

                                      6 Replies
                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          Oh, I dunno.

                                          I hear the food is better in Hell, anyway. Plus, I like hot food.

                                        2. re: ipsedixit

                                          You have to die of something. I don't like to get sick. Especially food poisoning kind of sick . . .

                                          This thread is making me appreciate farmers even more.

                                          One of my meat eating friends sent this to me:

                                          "Note to All Hunters: This is from a San Francisco newspaper!

                                          To all you hunters who kill animals for food, shame on you; you ought to go to the store and buy the meat that was made there, where no animals were harmed."

                                          Deer hunting season starts in about a week. At least hunters and anglers know where their food comes from . . .

                                          1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                            When you say it was from a San Francisco newspaper, was it a letter to the editor, advertisement, editorial? And what newspaper?

                                            Or was it from your friend who got it off the internet somewhere, and probably somewhere along the line made it up?

                                            I know. There is a lot worse stuff out there, but this kind of stuff just bothers me.

                                            1. re: TroyTempest

                                              My apologies, Troy Tempest.

                                              I have no idea . . .it was just a joke (the joke I received is in "quotes"). Especially the part that says "go to the store and buy the meat that was made there. . ."

                                        3. And then there is the issue of the horrible lives the critters are forced to live on factory farms.

                                          1. Short answer is there's almost nothing going to deter me from eating chicken. I buy high welfare birds (no guarantee against salmonella) and cook it throughly.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Harters

                                              Not familiar with the term "high welfare," Harters.

                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                I'm going to guess it's a term meaning something like the grade Whole Foods gives to all their meat - points added for free range or cage-free, organic feed, no antibiotics or hormones etcetera. I'm not giving up on eating chicken, but Foster Farms has been off my shopping list for a long time before any of this hit the news.

                                            2. I'm still eating it. But I will say I'm making sure it is well cooked and following safer than usual handling standards. I'm also buying more from my CSA farmer.

                                              I have backed off the Costco cooked chickens for a bit.

                                              1. Mark Bitman got this completely right. Our chicken supply is becoming more contaminated as a result of our mass production processes, and the evidence is clear. 40% hospitalization rate is a scary number.

                                                This isn't just about the presence of salmonella, it is about the fact that those who become ill are becoming harder to treat. And as the CostCo incident shows, it is not always in our individual control to stay clear of illness.

                                                If FSIS took a new look at the problem, they could lead the industry to produce a safer chicken supply. But their interests lie with the producers more than they should.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: calumin

                                                  I wouldn't assume that the FSIS isn't looking at the problem. Remember that they recently reclassified certain strains of E. coli as adulterants.

                                                  1. re: GH1618

                                                    Well I assume they are looking at it, and that they're also moving very slowly.

                                                    The Bittman reference to Sweden is interesting. Salmonella in commercial poultry in Sweden is less than 0.1% and the country treats poultry containing salmonella as unfit for human consumption. Now that these salmonella strains are becoming more resistant to antibiotic treatment this will become more of an issue in the US.

                                                2. I think he's crazy to suggest that there is now a salmonella strain that can withstand high heat.

                                                  What is 1000% more likely is that Costco didn't cook those birds properly, and so they were not safe. Costco can state that they cook all the birds to 180, but what do they do to enforce that? I've NEVER seen anyone attending one of those rotisserie stations with an instant meat thermometer checking every bird that comes out of the oven. How do they know that the entire bird made it to 180 for the appropriate amount of time?

                                                  Having said that, whenever I buy a rotisserie chicken I always heat it again in my oven at home until it's thoroughly hot, unless I'm using it in something that I'm cooking again, like soup. Also, I have found a local farm where I can get pastured, free-range heritage chickens, and I buy those as much as I can afford (they are not cheap).

                                                  1. Avoid the beaks and you'll be fine.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. I bet more people are hit by cars while texting and that doesn't stop them.
                                                      Certainly more people die from smoking than get sick from chickens and that doesn't stop them.
                                                      I suspect more people will be hit by lightning this year than will get sick from poultry. And that won't stop people from going out in a storm.

                                                      I will not stop eating chicken. Will take my chances with cars, lightning but don't smoke anymore.

                                                      DT

                                                      1. I don't buy factory farmed chicken, which tend to be the most virulent and I am uber careful about cross contamination in my own kitchen.

                                                        Still on the menu.

                                                        I'd scrupulously avoid chickens raised in unwholesome conditions and on antibiotics that lead to resistant regimens.

                                                        Did Bittman suggest readers stop eating leafy greens when e. coli was found in those?

                                                        1. I'm still eating chicken. I almost never order it out and I rarely buy rotisserie chickens, so whatever chicken I consume has been cooked by me. I am careful about cross-contamination and thorough cooking (made easier by the fact that I rarely eat white meat, and I prefer my dark meat WELL done), and like many others I am less inclined to believe that this is a new heat-resistant strain and more inclined to believe that someone in the Costco meat department didn't know what they were doing.

                                                          1. Three years ago I swore off industrially raised meat in all forms, in favor of locally grown, small-producer chicken, lamb, pork, and beef. It's more expensive in immediate dollar terms, so we have a few more meatless meals -- less but better is the watchword.

                                                            In big-picture terms, it's much _less_ expensive: the raising, butchering, and transport of the meat that we cook with doesn't abuse the animals, the land, the workers, or the planet's carbon load. The money stays in the local economy. The farmland stays farmland, and farmers' children are taking on farming again. And the people eating the food aren't made sick.

                                                            In the last year the federal govt has allowed a tripling of the speed of poultry processing lines -- already one of the hardest and most injury-producing jobs in the country -- while cutting the number of inspectors. In the last month or so they've green-lighted the import of meat processed in China, with no labeling to let consumers know the country of origin. Nothing now could persuade me to cook with supermarket chicken.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: ellabee

                                                              What a great and succinct piece. That pretty much covers it.

                                                            2. It appears that there are strains that are more heat resistant than others.

                                                              http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/artic...

                                                              1. And here's another bit of data:

                                                                http://www.fooddoctors.com/FoodSafety...

                                                                It seems like even the govt. recommended ITs could wind up being too low in some cases. And I don't like overcooked anything. Another argument for me to change my buying habits. And has been said, have more meatless meals to save money.

                                                                1. Hi, globocity:

                                                                  My take is that it's the typical Bittman shouty, speculative, alarmist overreach.

                                                                  Wolf. Wolf! WOLF!

                                                                  Aloha,
                                                                  Kaleo

                                                                  1. Another reason that I seek out local pastured animals, (poultry, pork, rabbits, and beef). Recently I have found a few larger scale "backyard farmers" that produce very high quality meat that is hunanely and carefully tended and raised.

                                                                    1. I have chicken from the batches that was suspect. I am continuing to COOK and eat it. Virtually all poultry is suspect, including your vaulted small supplier all natural, organic supplies. These small suppliers, and especially the hobbyist producers are even more prone to having problems and not even knowing it.

                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                      1. re: NVJims

                                                                        Could you give a citation please regarding local, small producers? TIA.

                                                                        1. re: NVJims

                                                                          That's a really dubious assertion. Unless you have documentation that small suppliers have 70% or more infection rates in their poultry like factory farmers do?

                                                                          1. re: NVJims

                                                                            Actually, the Salmonella Enteritidis bacterium flourishes in the warm fresh feces of many animals. Meat chickens are especially vulnerable when raised in close quarters as found in "factory farms" where it is not uncommon for 1 1/2 to 2 feet of chicken fecal matter to build up on the floor of the warehouse where the meat birds spend their short lives, usually 10=12 weeks max. One of the advantages of pastured, humanely raised animals, is this lack of concentrated fresh manure in a confined space. Hens that lay eggs in a factory environment do not fare much better. Battery cages are stacked 5 high, not fun if you are on the first level and all of your neighbors above are crapping on you 24/7, eventually the birds' feathers burn out and leave ther laying hen featherless and crusted with feces.

                                                                            1. re: ospreycove

                                                                              That had been my take but hopefully NVJims will give us more info.

                                                                              1. re: ospreycove

                                                                                I have a cousin with laying houses and at one time came close to purchasing one myself...now there are different ways to skin a cat, but the laying houses I know of are in no way close to the way you describe them.

                                                                                1. re: JayL

                                                                                  Are you talking large, commercial setup or something small? The "factories" definitely operate as ospreycove described.

                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                    Small...I thought I had said that or at least made that clear...sorry.

                                                                                    Anyway, my point was to not paint the whole industry with one wide brush.

                                                                              2. re: NVJims

                                                                                There was a 2011 study by University of Georgia and Ohio State which found salmonella presence in conventionally-grown chickens at 7x the rate of organically-grown chickens.

                                                                                More importantly, the salmonella in organically-grown chickens didn't have the same multi-drug anti-microbial resistance that's found in conventionally grown chickens.

                                                                              3. I lean toward Purdue, for lack of better knowledge. I suffered from salmonella from a chicken quesadilla from a food truck, several BAD days.

                                                                                11 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Veggo

                                                                                  Why Perdue? I recall a statistic from probably a decade or more ago from public health authorities citing a 70% infection rate in factory farmed chickens with one or more infections, most typically salmonella an campylobacter.

                                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                                    I think that statistic is still valid. I did read that 'air-dried' birds are better. I've bought those a couple of times from WF when seeking a small(er) chicken for Zuni.

                                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                                      Why Perdue? I attended a business seminar in DC with Frank Purdue back in the 70's, and he was smarter and more entertaining than the instructor.

                                                                                    2. re: Veggo

                                                                                      Now, I am going to throw a curve ball. Isn't it not a bad thing to get sick once or twice? While I don't want people die from food poisoning, I can see a problem if everything is too clean.

                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                        Unrelated point.

                                                                                        There's a vast middle there.

                                                                                        And these food borne superbugs tend to be more lethal to children, especially, in many cases.

                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                          There's the natural "flora and fauna" and then there are the "toxic" organisms. You need and want the former and you don't need or want the latter. Ever.

                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                            No, that's not completely right. There's a school of thought that people need to be exposed to pathogens to "train" their immune systems. Most of the articles on this that I found are behind scientific journal pay walls. But see http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/21/opi...

                                                                                            I think that chemicalkinetics is not letting on all he knows -- he (like me) is a professional scientist (I don't know him, but it's evident in his posts).

                                                                                            1. re: drongo

                                                                                              I don't disagree with you..but there are pathogens and then there are pathogens :) I honestly don't want to "train" my gut on small doses of salmonella. One bout from a recalled (but not removed from the shelves) jar of peanut butter was enough for me, thank you very much. But I devoutly believe that all this obsession with "germs" is ridiculous and causes harm. Except on a cruise ship where they damn near tackle you, I've never used hand sanitizers, drink tap water all over the world, wash my hands mostly when there's noticeable dirt on them, etc. And I have gut of iron :) So I do believe that I've immunized myself to a lot of things.

                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                I agree with you that training one's immune system on highly pathogenic strains of Salmonella is not appealing!

                                                                                          2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                            There are some pathogens that are best avoided altogether.

                                                                                            1. re: GH1618

                                                                                              Definitely true. Including some strains of Salmonella (a genus very near-and-dear to my heart, for reasons unrelated to this discussion board).

                                                                                        2. I am going to eat only pink slime from now on -- the ammonia used in processing kills the bacteria. I'll recommend it to Mr. Bittman too.

                                                                                          Maybe I can invent a poultry version of pink slime and make my fortune!

                                                                                          1. It's a non-issue for me too, and I eat chicken in one form or another at least a couple of times a week. Why a non-issue? Partly because the odds against getting sick are immense - I'm not panicked by 7,500 cases out of tens or even hundreds of millions of meals eaten in restaurants or at home. Partly because I personally have never been sickened by chicken. :-)

                                                                                            Mark Bittman is an outstanding cookbook author, but as an editorial columnist he can get carried away. I'd want to see some other, calmer opinions about this. Of course we need to be careful in how we handle and cook chicken, but that's old news.

                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: John Francis

                                                                                              I'm actually focused on the data not "opinions."

                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                Most cases of food borne illness never make it into the data... a very small percentage, even of of surveillance illnesses, ever get reported, or even diagnosed.

                                                                                                You can assume that the folks who got reported were *damned* sick and/or hospitalized.

                                                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                                                  I was just referring to the citations I linked to above. Those were about the organisms themselves rather than people. And I agree with you btw.

                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                    I knew you knew, I was just piggy backing on your statement.
                                                                                                    :-)

                                                                                            2. All the more reason to be indians and farmers and such.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. If I stopped eating something just because the media started a scare campaign about it I would have starved years ago.

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: PotatoHouse

                                                                                                  What I'm reacting to isn't the media. I'm reacting to the facts. There's a ton of data from very reputable sources. As I wrote at the top of the thread, I'm in no way a germophobe. But I also have an amount of scientific and medical background. The data is there, for me only as I said, to stop eating these factory-produced chickens.

                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                    It's been there in some form since at least 1985, IIRC.

                                                                                                2. Yes, I am taking a break. For more than a month now. Just got bored with chicken.The super market brands were tasting crappy.Oh,well. Then the salmonella outbreak that happened here in CA.I'm completly turned off with chicken now. It will be some time before I buy it again. I could get one from the farmers market, but not that into it. So with Thanksgiving coming up I would think this applies to Turkey also. I missed Thanksgiving last year and everyone who ate that turkey got sicker than shit. Scared. You bet !

                                                                                                  1. Does this issue apply to Cornish game hens too?

                                                                                                    I can never find out info about the processing concerns about game hens.

                                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20...

                                                                                                      Concerning testing of Cornish game hens. I think the broader issue of food borne superbugs, resistance to antibiotics is typical of all factory farmed animal products.

                                                                                                        1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                          I never see any pastured ones, but I haven't really looked. Probably really spendy, though. http://www.motherearthnews.com/homest... :-

                                                                                                          )

                                                                                                          I think in the U.S., Whole Foods has them. Haven't priced them, though.

                                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                                            Yes, I haven't found any in my area. I have continued to buy from the regular chain store. I love them. Eat them every other week. I have wondered how healthful they are :(

                                                                                                            1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                              I like Cornish game hens also, but I never understood why a smaller younger chicken costs more than a larger one that has eaten more. For the price of 2 I can buy a duck for 2 which I enjoy more but of course it is more work.

                                                                                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                I know! Pricing is not reasonable. But I really like them. They are perfect for a dinner for two, no leftovers.. And a little carcass for stock to make soup for the weeks lunches.

                                                                                                                1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                  Well, if you compare the price to a better chicken, then I wonder. I pay more for the smaller, better chickens. You truly do get what you pay for. IMO.

                                                                                                    2. I'm still buying and eating chicken, but I stopped using factory/supermarket birds (and every other meat for that matter) in 2009 - inspired by a horrific case of food poisoning. Local is more expensive but I am happy to cut costs elsewhere. I've walked the pastures where the chickens are raised and pick up my meat at the processing plant, so I really do know where it comes from.

                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                          Reading these posts, I had been thinking that living in Georgia, I needn't worry about eating California chickens.

                                                                                                          After reading this salon article, I think I will spend the extra and buy chicken from the local small growers. There are commercial chicken farms by the hundreds here, but I have no idea what conditions those birds live in.

                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                              Georgia in the Deep South, US.
                                                                                                              Our state is a huge commercial poultry producer.

                                                                                                              http://www.gapf.org/IndustryFacts/def...

                                                                                                              1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                                                                Being originally from Atlanta, I'm aware of that. I'll add that the only salmonellosis I got was from tainted peanut butter from a Georgia processing plant :( I firmly believe this is a nationwide problem fostered by the government's leniency And now they're talking about not even having outside inspectors, just letting their be inhouse ones.