I have to confess that as a vegan, I do not think about meat very often, but food safety is one of my passions. With the latest salmonella outbreak occurring in the U.S. apparently from a Foster Farms chicken processing plant, I thought to myself I hope nobody dies. Speaking as a former salmonella victim, I can tell you first hand that I would not wish salmonella on my enemies because the pain and suffering is really cruel and debilitating.
Here are the latest statistics of the Multistate Outbreak of Multidrug-Resistant Salmonella Heidelberg Infections Linked to Foster Farms Brand Chicken as of October 11th, according to the CDC:
- Illness has been reported in 20 states and Puerto Rico
- 42% of the 317 cases reported required hospitalization
- 73% of the cases have been reported in California
- No deaths have been reported…yet
- Salmonella Heidelberg is multi-drug resistant meaning there are several commonly prescribed antibiotics that will not combat this illness; for example, ampicillin, streptomycin, and tetracycline will not work.
- Typically, 5% of people that contract Salmonella develop a blood borne disease; moreover, so far 13% of people that have contracted Salmonella Heidelberg have developed a blood infection- that more than double what is normal!
What can you do to protect yourself or minimally reduce your risk to exposure?
- If you must eat chicken, stop eating chicken produced by large agro businesses, like Foster Farms, Tyson, Sanderson Farms, and Pilgrim’s Corp. Buy your heritage poultry from small local artisanal suppliers, it will cost more, but the flavor will be better and the bird was well cared for before it arrived on your plate
- Avoid restaurants where they serve chicken, at least in the short term, unless you feel lucky and want to play the odds, do you feel lucky?
- Never ever wash your poultry prior to cooking it; moreover, if you wash your poultry, you are taking unnecessary risk that is easily avoidable, according to NBC News: “People, stop washing your chicken!” The videos are pretty disgusting, so I hope you have a strong stomach.
There are so many observations about this life threatening foodborne illness outbreak that I want to talk about, but here are three questions that I hope you will consider and write a response below:
- Foodborne illness is a fairly common occurrence, has the latest outbreak caused you to change your eating habits in any way?
- If so, what changes are you adopting?
- If this outbreak has not caused you to change your eating habits in any way, what do you think it will take?