Ground Turkey Might Be Full Of Bacteria From Fecal Matter. But Should You Be Concerned?

Consumer Reports on fecal matter in turkey
There’s probably some crap and deadly bacteria swimming around in your ground up turkey. – Source of image: Consumer Reports

I love turkey.  Thanksgiving turkeys are the best, because they’re slaughtered with gratitude.  Apparently though, ground turkey is full of crap.  Quite literally.  It seems there’s an excellent chance that if you’re consuming ground turkey, you’re also consuming fecal matter.

More than half of ground turkey samples are contaminated with fecal bacteria, according to a new study from Consumer Reports. In addition, the magazine found that more than 90 percent of the ground turkey samples it tested contained at least one of the five bacteria the test was looking for — salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, enterococcus and campylobacter (though no campylobacter was found). The test covered 257 retail samples from 21 states and 27 different brands, all purchased in retail stores. [ ]

From the

  • Sixty-nine percent of ground-turkey samples harbored enterococcus, and 60 percent harbored Escherichia coli. Those bugs are associated with fecal contamination. About 80 percent of the enterococcus bacteria were resistant to three or more groups of closely related antibiotics (or classes), as were more than half of the E. coli.
  • Three samples were contaminated with methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which can cause fatal infections.
  • Ground turkey labeled “no antibiotics,” “organic,” or “raised without antibiotics” was as likely to harbor bacteria as products without those claims. (After all, even meat from organic birds can pick up bacteria during slaughter or processing.) The good news is that bacteria on those products were much less likely to be antibiotic-­resistant superbugs.

 The National Turkey Association Strikes Back

In fairness we should really give the big players in the Turkey game a chance to weigh in:

The National Turkey Federation (NTF) strongly disputes the misleading findings of a Consumer Reports article about ground turkey, which makes a number of alarming claims based on an extremely small sampling of ground turkey products.

“Consumer Reports had the opportunity to foster a serious, thoughtful discussion about food safety, but instead it chose to sensationalize findings and mislead people,” said NTF President Joel Brandenberger. ]

My Thoughts And Advice

Fecal matter and bacteria in turkey
Bacteria, it’s what’s for dinner. It’s everywhere. It’s on you right now, inside you. If it wasn’t, you would die of fungus poisoning. Trust in the immune system, don’t become too neurotic. In the meantime, it would also be nice if the FDA were better funded, and did a better job.

Don’t panic.  If anyone actually is.  Don’t stop eating turkey.  By now you should already be aware of the fact half the time you’re eating chicken it’s rabbit, and half the time you’re eating beef it’s horse.  Well not half, but at least some of the time.  Rabbit and horse are perfectly viable sources of protein and deliciousness as well.  There’s also almost certainly plenty of fecal matter in those foods.  Every time you go to the hospital, to be admitted or to visit someone, you’re in a palace of germs and viruses that have Harvard educations as to how to deal with antibiotics.

This isn’t to say this is right, however.  The FDA should be better funded and should be doing a better job.  I need restrain myself from ranting, because I would wind up making this article about money in politics and the fact the regulators have all the incentives in the world not to do their jobs, due to that whole revolving door you’ve probably heard about.  But that’s all I’ll write about that for now, because it’s not the focus.

YES we should feel comfortable that our food is predictable – beef is beef, chicken is chicken, a horse is a horse – and that we’re not eating fecal matter ridden ground up meat with antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria lying in wait to proliferate from within our gut until the spilling blood from our orifices congeals.

The Good News – And George Carlin

The germ that’s going to be the death of you could be on any railing, any desktop, door knob, or delivered from the lips of your lover’s lips.  What do we do about it?  Anti-bacterial gels?  I don’t recommend it, they kill all the good bacteria too, and it’s the good bacteria on our skin and inside of us that keeps fungus at bay.  Now that would be a horrible death.  Just take heart you have an immune system, and the more practice it gets, the more equip it’ll be to handle future threats.  I could write more about this, or let George Carlin deliver it through his comedy.  Now that’s an easy decision.

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