NBC Nightly News: Consumer Reports Say Ground Turkey May Not Be Safe.

Ground Turkey 5-1-2013 NBC’s Nightly News with Brian Williams reported on yet another consumer safety alert. This one is concerning ground turkey. Many of us have turned to ground turkey as a healthy alternative to beef and pork. But a new investigation by Consumer Reports may cause us to seek an alternative to that alternative. They have found that ground turkey may be a breeding ground for some dangerous bacteria such as salmonella that one consumer told NBC reporter Tom Costello she contracted most likely from a turkey burger and was hospitalized for five days as a result of the poisoning.

Tom Costello explained the Consumer Report analysis of ground turkey sold at retail stores nationwide found that more than half contained fecal bacteria including E. coli.  90% of the samples contained potentially dangerous bacteria. And most disturbing was that nearly all of these were resistant to common antibiotics. The NBC report said that farm animals including turkeys are regularly fed antibiotics to keep them healthy. Urvashi Rangan from Consumer Reports explained that the problem with feeding low level antibiotics on a daily basis is that it increases the number of superbugs that become resistant to antibiotics.

The turkey industry criticized the report, its study, and its small sample size saying that ground turkey is very safe and that the fecal matter found is generally not harmful!  Joel Brandenburger with The National Turkey Federation said that the antibiotics are used judiciously and used to protect the health of the flocks. So they feel that this use of antibiotics does not raise concern.

But NBC’s Tom Costello says that the FDA is concerned about drug resistance bacteria which is dangerous to both humans and animals. He reports that the The FDA is rolling out a three-year program to reduce the amount of antibiotics in animal feed.

Meanwhile, the NBC report says to reduce the danger of bacteria in the ground turkey that our families eat, experts recommend…

  • cooking the turkey within a few days of buying it
  • storing it at 40°F or cooler or freezing it
  • cook ground turkey to at least 165°F
  • always wash your hands and counter tops (especially after coming in contact with raw ground turkey or any raw meat)
  • Also, it may be a safer choice to buy organic or non-antibiotic turkey which Consumer Reports say contains far less antibiotic resistant bacteria

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