It’s a Crapshoot: Feces-Tainted Chicken Is Widespread
Buffalo, N.Y., is the birthplace of Buffalo chicken wings. But a new PCRM report finds that 62 percent of residents are unaware that much of the chicken they eat is tainted with feces. In December, a PCRM billboard warned them: “It’s a Crapshoot: Feces Taint 50 Percent of Buffalo Chicken.”
PCRM purchased chicken products from 10 retail stores in the Buffalo, N.Y., area and sent them to an independent analytical testing laboratory. The lab found 63 out of 100 packages of chicken tested positive for fecal contamination. Even skinless chicken breasts, thought by some to be a more healthful choice, showed a high rate of contamination.
In the conditions of typical poultry farms and transportation, chickens defecate on themselves and one another and wade through litter packed with feces. Feces also leak from intestines at the time of slaughter, easily spreading from carcass to carcass.
After the visual check for fecal matter, carcasses are typically chilled in ice water, effectively a communal bath in which the feces mix together.
“You take a chicken that eats, sleeps, craps and everything in one little space, they enter the scald vat dirty, and it takes only a few minutes to become just brown fecal soup,” explains Stan Painter, chair of the National Joint Council of Food Inspection Locals, the government meat inspectors’ union.
A federal inspector 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, 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.’”
|Fecal Contamination of Chicken Products in 10 Buffalo-Area, N.Y. Stores|
|Store||Location||Chicken Products with Fecal Contamination|
|Dash’s Market||Hertel Avenue, Buffalo||70%|
|Colvin Boulevard, Tonawanda||50%|
|PriceRite||Walden Avenue, Cheektonaga||90%|
|Kenmore Avenue, Buffalo||70%|
|Save-A-Lot||Broadway Street, Buffalo||60%|
|Genesee Street, Buffalo||40%|
|Target||Delaware Avenue, Buffalo||80%|
|Walden Avenue, Cheektowaga||70%|
|TOPS||Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo||70%|
|Seneca Street, Buffalo||30%|