Health Alert

“Poultry” are Sick Enough to Make People Sick and Stay Sick

Illustration by Nigel Burroughs

A survey reported in the January 2003 issue of Consumer Reports found harmful drug- resistant bacteria in nearly half the chickens it purchased in stores around the country. 42% of the birds were infected by Campylobacter and 12% were infected by Salmonella. Both types of bacteria can cause diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, arthritis, and death. Sierra Club and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy found similar results in whole chickens and ground up turkeys purchased and tested for infection in the Midwest. 90% of the Campylobacter samples and 34% of the Salmonella resisted treatment by antibiotics such as tetracycline, according to Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports. Ronald Phillips, a spokesman for the Animal Health Institute, which represents animal drug companies, said the use of antibiotics in animals raised for food is necessary "[b]cause when you stop that use, those animals get sick." – Quoted by the Associated Press, Dec. 11, 2002.