Billboard airs claims about feces in chicken

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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BUFFALO, NY – A billboard sponsored by the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) claims that 50 percent of chicken sold in Buffalo, NY, stores are tainted with feces, according to WIVB.com.

The billboard is located on a route leading to Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the NFL Buffalo Bills. The billboard will read: “It’s a Crapshoot: Feces Taints 50% of Buffalo Chicken.” PCRM plans to display its message Dec. 2. PCRM is a non-profit organization that advocates a vegan diet, preventive medicine and alternatives to using animals in research.

According to the news report, the group tested packaged chicken from area Buffalo markets, including Save-A-Lot and Target. The group claims that out of 100 packages of chicken, 63 tested positive for fecal contamination.

In a statement, the National Chicken Council called the group’s claims a “misleading attempt by a pseudo-medical, vegan advocacy group to scare consumers” to advance their goal of a meat-free society.

“The presence of generic E. coli is not a guaranteed indicator for fecal contamination, as suggested,” said Ashley Peterson, Ph.D., National Chicken Council vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs. “Most E. coli strains are completely harmless and these findings do not differentiate between those strains and the ones that can cause foodborne illness, like O157:H7. It is impossible to pinpoint the source of the E. coli as it is everywhere in nature, on animals and in humans.

“All E. coli strains, however, are killed through proper cooking,” Peterson added.

Chicken processors use many scientifically validated measures to guard against contamination and to reduce bacteria levels at various points in the entire production process, she said. The US Department of Agriculture also has a strict zero-tolerance policy for visible fecal material, and chicken plants strictly adhere to that policy and other food safety standards.

“Consumers need balanced, credible information just as they need a healthy, balanced diet,” Peterson said. “When it comes to nutrition, check with health sources like your doctor, dietician or the US Dietary Guidelines. You can be assured that they will tell you that a healthy diet can and should include lean meats like chicken.

“I hope that Buffalonians and Bills fans take this billboard with a grain of salt… and a side of hot sauce, bleu cheese and celery.”

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