How Common is E. Coli in Chicken?

Studies have shown that virtually all chickens become infected with Escherichia coli, or E. coli, and as much as 75 percent of chicken in retail stores is still infected. Additionally, about 8 percent are infected with salmonella, and 70 to 90 percent are infected with campylobacter, which can cause severe food poisoning. This is because of the way that the chicken carcasses are cooled in the United States, which is by dipping them all together in a vat of water, which has been described as "fecal soup". Though it would be easy to limit the contamination by simply placing the carcasses in plastic bags before dipping them, the food industry is reluctant because loose chickens soak up the water, which increases their weight and, therefore, their value.

More about chicken production:

  • In the U.S., it is legal for the chicken in retail stores to have as much as 11 percent of its weight composed of water — i.e., fecal soup. Additionally, up to 30 percent of the weight of chicken and turkey products — whether "natural" or regular — is made up of salt solutions, flavoring or water.

  • Many chickens are so genetically modified that they cannot take more than a few steps without collapsing under their own body weight. This is true for free-range chickens as well as regular chickens, making the "free-range" part of the name a little pointless.

  • In the average large poultry production facility, more than 50,000 birds are cooped together with less personal space than a sheet of printer paper per chicken. Most egg-producing chickens live in cages that are too small to allow them to lift their wings.

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Does anyone know of companies that produce chicken without fecal soup whose products can be found in grocery stores?

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