Documentary reveals why Brits refuse to eat American meats

Brits are turning up their beaks at American chicken.

Microbiologist Lance Price, a professor at George Washington University in Washington, DC, has embarked on a five-year examination of bacterial contamination in American livestock. Recently, he shared his findings for UK’s Channel 4 program “Dispatches,” which aired Sunday.

Compared with farms in the UK, Price found that pork from pigs raised in the US is up to six times more likely to be contaminated with salmonellosis, the bacteria that causes salmonella infection, as close to 13% of samples tested coming from the US contained the diarrhea, fever and cramp-inducing bacterium. While symptoms generally last about a week, about 26,500 victims out of an estimated 1.35 million infections each year in the US will end up in the hospital due to the illness and 420 will die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Meanwhile, Escherichia coli, or E. coli, was detected in a shocking majority of American-based livestock products tested during the study, including pork (60%), beef (70%), chicken (80%) and turkey (90%).

Though there are several types of E.coli, it’s the variety that creates the Shiga toxin that is well-known to cause similar symptoms as salmonella infection, though marginally less lethal with about 265,000 illnesses and about 30 deaths each year, according to a 2012 CDC report. However, North America has become a top producer of one of the deadliest strains of the bacteria, the Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157, also called STEC 0157.

“I find it a little disturbing because E. coli is an indicator of fecal contamination, so most of the meat is contaminated with feces, and the feces within it has these dangerous pathogens,” said Price during the half-hour documentary — an investigation prompted by a post-Brexit US trade deal.

So-called “chlorinated chicken” has become a revolting mascot for American poultry among UK consumers, who have long shunned our chops over the practice of bleach-washing raw chicken in order to eliminate the harmful pathogens discussed in Price’s study. In 1997, the European Union put a ban on the practice, meaning a majority of poultry raised in the US were not eligible for export to the UK and other European nations. However, Brexit has reopened livestock trade negotiations between the US and UK.

“With salmonella [and] Campylobacter, you’re going to get diarrhea, you’re going to be sick for a few days and you’ll get over it, but if you have any kind of compromised immune system, they can cause serious invasive infections; that is, they can get into your blood and kill you,” the food researcher claimed.

The lesser-known Campylobacter, whose symptoms are milder than salmonella and E. coli, has led US food poisoning rates in the past.

Price’s study also explores the potential health dangers of six growth hormones that are commonly used by US beef producers, which encourage rapid and outsized growth. Regulators of European beef imports have already called out one such chemical, 17-beta estradiol, as a potential carcinogen among certain groups of people. Animal studies have shown the hormone to produce tumors and may increase the risk of breast and uterine cancers.

Price called US rates of food-borne pathogens “unacceptable, given that it is controllable.” However, powerful interest groups have stymied efforts to clean up the meat market. He added, “the industry has been very successful in fighting any kind of regulations there.”

Share this article:

Source: Read Full Article