Survey Shows Americans Don't Realize Chicken and Beef Are Often Infected with Feces - Doctors Petition USDA to Ensure "Feces-Free"
Meat or Issue Biohazard Label
Washington, D.C. - A new study shows that 84 percent of adults have no idea that the primary source of salmonella, campylobacter, E. coli,
and other foodborne pathogens on poultry and meat is animal feces.
The survey of 1,000 men and women was completed during the period of July 26-29, 2001, by Opinion Research Corporation International on
behalf of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).
Foodborne illnesses are at epidemic levels in the United States; the Centers for Disease Control estimate there are at least 76 million
cases each year, usually from consumption of animal products.
"Our findings show the vast majority of Americans do not understand there are feces on meat and poultry," says PCRM staff attorney Mindy Kursban.
"In fact, there's a major disconnect in the public consciousness between the foodborne illnesses that sicken so many of us and their originating cause - animal excrement."
Survey respondents answered the following question: "When salmonella and other disease-causing bacteria are found on meat and poultry,
which of the following do you think BEST describes where these bacteria originally came from?"
The answers were as follows:
Foodborne pathogens came from animal blood 10 percent
They came from dirty hands 19 percent
They are naturally present in the meat 17 percent
They are naturally present in the animal's skin 9 percent
They came from animal feces 16 percent
They came from dirty air in a slaughter house 15 percent
Didn't think any of these or didn't know 13 percent
Statistically, respondents with college degrees, a household income equal to or greater than $50,000, or residence in a metropolitan area
were more likely to know that feces are the originating source of disease-causing bacteria.
The survey's release coincides with PCRM's filing of a petition calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to protect consumers
against feces-contaminated poultry and meat.
PCRM's petition asks the government to declare feces an adulterant - an action that would greatly strengthen federal meat safety regulations.
PCRM also proposes that until the government can guarantee Americans feces-free food, all poultry and meat products should carry a biohazard
label. Such a procedure is similar to how medical waste is treated.