Hundreds sickened in recent salmonella outbreak linked to chicken

Posted By Kinnard, Clayton & Beveridge || Jan 2, 2014

While the U.S. Department of Agriculture, better known as the USDA, is taking steps to better prevent salmonella, a Pew Charitable Trusts food safety expert is saying these "baby steps" the government agency is taking are simply not enough. Rather, Sandra Eskin, points to the most recent outbreak that sickened hundreds and said more needs to be done with "a few giant steps."

In talking about the most recent salmonella outbreak, Eskin was making reference to the more than 416 people across the country that became ill after eating contaminated chicken. This was the second outbreak linked to the same Foster Farms brand. In 2012, 134 people became ill after eating chicken linked to the brand.

With this most recent outbreak, the antibiotic-resistant salmonella led to a higher number of hospitalizations than normal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, normally the hospitalization rate with salmonella falls at 20 percent. However, with this most recent outbreak, the hospitalization rate was at 39 percent.

Consumer Reports also ran its own investigation into salmonella tainted chicken and found that out of 316 raw chicken breasts, 10.8 percent were contaminated with salmonella. Of these, 79 percent were also resistant to one or more antibiotics.

For the average Tennessee resident, learning about salmonella outbreaks linked to chicken can be unsettling, especially considering the fact that chicken is the No. 1 meat eaten in the U.S.

With the USDA now looking into ways to move away from removing contamination to actually preventing contamination, the hope is more is done to prevent unsafe chicken from getting into the supermarkets in the first place.

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