9 Out Of 10 Turkey Samples Contaminated With Fecal Bacteria
This brief article summarizes various studies and reports addressing the current state of turkey production in the United States. The rapid growth rate of turkeys is so great they cannot structurally support themselves. Once slaughtered, these turkeys are a human health risk due to the high rates of bacterial contamination.
Turkeys produced for meat consumption have been bred to grow so fast that many simply drop dead at only a few months of age due to heart attacks from the stress of carrying their own weight. Their growth rate is so expedited in these turkeys that in the period of time it takes a wild turkey to grow to eight pounds, farmed turkeys grow to be 28 pounds. “Their skeletons cannot adequately support such weight, leading to degenerative hip disease, spontaneous fractures, and up to 20% mortality due to lameness in problem flocks.”
Some farmers are taking this high growth rate as a good sign of “flock health” — they interpret the sudden deaths as an indicator that the turkeys are growing large at a fast pace. However, research points to the fact that disease resistance decreases in animals that have been selectively bred or genetically modified for extreme growth.
This lack of disease resistance may account for the high rates of bacterial contamination in turkeys that have been killed for food. Centers for Disease Control inspections found that while 7 of 10 samples of beef were contaminated with e. coli, 9 of 10 samples of turkey were. Turkey also had the highest contamination rates of the bacterias Enterococcus faecalis and multi-drug resistant Enteroccocus faecium. A test of food samples in grocery stores for a recent study also found that turkey had the highest rates for staph bacterias. 77% of samples were infected with staph bacteria and 79% were infected with multi-drug resistant staph bacteria.