by Melissa Melton
(Originally published at Ready Nutrition.)
Two different lots of frozen chicken products totaling 60,669 pounds have been recalled by the the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in just a matter of two days.
Concerns over staph bacteria contamination has prompted the USDA to recall 31,689 pounds of frozen chicken products sold by Murry’s Inc. out of Lebanon, Pennsylvania.
The chicken products have a best by date of August 9, 2015 and include the following products (view labels):
- 12-oz. boxes of “Bell & Evans Gluten Free Breaded Chicken Breast Nuggets.”
- 10.5-oz. boxes of “Bell & Evans Gluten Free Breaded Chicken Breast.”
The products in question have the establishment number “P-516” inside the USDA mark of inspection.
Staphylococcal enterotoxins cause food sickness pretty quickly, usually within 30 minutes after eating food contaminated with it. Symptoms are the usual: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps which typically clear up within three days.
These products were shipped to retail locations nationwide.
I’ve seen these chicken products for sale at all manner of grocery store from low-end to upscale, including places like Whole Foods Market and Natural Grocer among others.
The day before that recall was announced, the Aspen Foods Division of Koch Meats out of Chicago recalled 28,980 pounds of chicken products that may be contaminated with a particular strain of Salmonella Enteritidis — this time because the products were associated with a verified, specific illness cluster.
The product was single five-ounce plastic packets of raw stuffed chicken breast breaded, boneless breast of chicken with rib meat “A La Kiev.” So far at least one person has been hospitalized after consuming “a La Kiev.”
In the age of mega-industrialized food, these things sadly occur all the time. In fact, out of the 12 food recalls that have been issued so far this month, five are related to tainted chicken products, and another five are beef…and that’s just this month.
Just a month ago, for example, Foster Farms out of California was recalling some 40,000 pounds of frozen grilled chicken for potential Listeria contamination. Eating this stuff can give a person Listeriosis, which can cause life-threatening complications in pregnant women, newborns and people with compromised immune systems.
Earlier this March, the USDA estimated that a whopping 9 million pounds of “diseased and unsound” meat in a single production may have made its way to 35 states before it was recalled.
All this sounds awful, but it is sadly business as usual in the U.S.
What is never mentioned by the USDA, and the FDA for that matter, is how little the highly industrialized American food supply is actually inspected. The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) doesn’t inspect as many plants as one might think.
For example, in regards to the deadly E. coli 0157:h7 strain, a Food & Water Watch report found that back in 1998 the FSIS “generally exempted most large plants from FSIS testing program because they used technologies, such as spraying carcasses with chemicals, during the slaughter process.”
Sounds safe, right? Of the measly 0.82% of samples taken at the large food production plants, 2.25% tested positive that year. You don’t even have to do the math to realize if a larger sample had been tested, a much larger percentage of positives would have shown up.
And that’s just one finding regarding beef in a single year.
Laughingly, the Obama Administration finalized rules just this past July which would cut USDA poultry inspectors by one-fourth, but somehow the government and its establishment media reported the move, “would save companies and taxpayers money while also decreasing pathogens in the food supply.” Not sure how that works…less inspectors = less pathogens? The math doesn’t seem to really add up there.
Imported food, which makes up around 17% of the American food supply these days, has even less accountability. The FDA admittedly only inspects one, maybe two percent of the food that’s being imported into this country from places like China. A Food Safety News investigation found that the number of countries audited — that is, sending USDA officials to other countries to inspect their poultry and meat factories and production practices — had declined by more than 60 percent since 2008.
As former governor Jesse Ventura pointed out in his book 63 Documents the Government Doesn’t Want You to Read:
The reality is, the conditions by which our food is being supplied to us are very dangerous. Consider that more than half a billion eggs were recalled last year and a salmonella outbreak in August made about 1,700 people sick. Preventable food-borne illness hits about 76 million Americans every year — 325,000 become hospitalized and 5,000 die from eating tainted food!
It all comes back to the same old thing: this is what happens when corporations, in this case agribusiness, take over. It simply becomes bottom line, money and profits — everything else be damned. There is a staph infection that’s antibiotic-resistant and widely present in our vast hog and chicken factories. It’s called ST398, and the reason it’s a huge problem is because those animals are getting daily doses of antibiotics — which make them grow faster (more bang for the buck) and keep them alive in the stress and unsanitary conditions where they’re raised.
You’d think that the federal regulators would want to keep tabs on this, but for years the FDA looked the other way…
And our government agencies continue to look the other way.
Of his work Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs wrote, “The title means exactly what the words say: NAKED Lunch – a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork.”
We’ve become so disconnected in this country to what actually is on the end of our forks, that most people do not realize the conditions in which the food is raised, slaughtered and prepared for market. In many cases, it looks nothing like the little barn on the front of the packages at your average grocery store. If most Americans ever visited a Confined Animal Feeding Operation and saw the dirty places where animals are packed in so tightly they can barely turn around, unnatural concentration camp-like places where a cow might never see a single blade of grass before it dies, they might think twice about what they are eating.
Besides making sure your meat products are not undercooked, making sure you know where your food is coming from and how rsponsibly it was raised — buying from small, local, organic farmers — is the best way you and your family can avoid becoming another Big Ag food disease statistic.