Consumer Reports Finds Bacteria in Turkey Products

Josh Long, Associate editorial director, Natural Products Insider

May 1, 2013

1 Min Read
Consumer Reports Finds Bacteria in Turkey Products

YONKERS, N.Y.A lab analysis of ground turkey products purchased at retail stores across the United States revealed potentially harmful bacteria for nearly all the samples tested, Consumer Reports magazine revealed in its June 2013 issue.

Of the 257 samples Consumer Reports tested, more than half were associated with fecal contamination while 90% contained one or more of the five bacteria for which they were tested. The magazine also highlighted another troubling finding: nearly all of the disease-causing organisms were resistant to antibiotics that are commonly used to fight them.

The National Turkey Federation (NTF) claimed the findings were misleading. Consumer Reports relied on a miniscule sampling of ground turkey products, cited high levels of pathogens (Enterococcus and generic E. coli) that aren't deemed sources of foodborne illness and tested antibiotics that skew the significance of its findings, according to the turkey industry advocate.

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

The turkey products were tested for the following bacteria: Enterococcus (69% positive sample), E. coli (60%), Staphylococcus aureus (15%), Salmonella (5%) and Campylobacter (0%).

Betsy Booren, chief scientist of the American Meat Institute Foundation, referred to the findings as "extremely encouraging", pointing out that none of the samples contained Campylobacter while only 5% tested positive for Salmonella.

When food safety issues have been linked to ground turkey, they have typically been caused by either Campylobacter or Salmonella. Consumer Reports test results show that the food safety systems used by turkey processors are working to destroy these bacteria," Booren said.

About the Author(s)

Josh Long

Associate editorial director, Natural Products Insider, Informa Markets Health and Nutrition

Josh Long directs the online news, feature and op-ed coverage at Natural Products Insider, which targets the health and wellness industry. He has been reporting on developments in the dietary supplement industry for over a decade, with a focus on regulatory issues, including at the Food and Drug Administration.

He has moderated and/or presented at industry trade shows, including SupplySide East, SupplySide West, Natural Products Expo West, NBJ Summit and the annual Dietary Supplement Regulatory Summit.

Connect with Josh on LinkedIn and ping him with story ideas at [email protected]

Education and previous experience

Josh majored in journalism and graduated from Arizona State University the same year "Jake the Snake" Plummer led the Sun Devils to the Rose Bowl against the Ohio State Buckeyes. He also holds a J.D. from the University of Wyoming College of Law, was admitted in 2008 to practice law in the state of Colorado and spent a year clerking for a state district court judge.

Over more than a quarter century, he’s written on various topics for newspapers and business-to-business publications – from the Yavapai in Arizona and a controversial plan for a nuclear-waste incinerator in Idaho to nuanced issues, including FDA enforcement of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA).

Since the late 1990s, his articles have been published in a variety of media, including but not limited to, the Cape Cod Times (in Massachusetts), Sedona Red Rock News (in Arizona), Denver Post (in Colorado), Casper Star-Tribune (in Wyoming), now-defunct Jackson Hole Guide (in Wyoming), Colorado Lawyer (published by the Colorado Bar Association) and Nutrition Business Journal.

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