Animal Aid

Chicken Meat Contains Killer Bug

Posted 7 October 2009

A recent survey by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has revealed that 65 per cent of chicken on sale in the UK is contaminated with the potentially lethal food-poisoning bug campylobacter. Campylobacter is the most common bacterial cause of food poisoning, according to the FSA, and causes diarrhoea, cramping and abdominal pain. As well as chicken it can be found on other meat, and in unpasteurised milk and untreated water. According to the US-based Centre for Disease Control, those with compromised immune systems are at risk of the bug spreading to the bloodstream and causing a life-threatening infection. In the UK, 80 people die each year as a result of the bug.

Since the FSA’s last survey in 2001, levels of campylobacter in chicken remain almost unchanged. This is not surprising considering the conditions in which the majority of UK chickens are raised. In 2008, Animal Aid filmed undercover at a modern ‘broiler’ (meat) chicken farm, which held a total of more than 150,000 birds, with at least 30,000 chickens in each capacity unit. By the time the birds were 39 days old (three days before they were to be taken to the killing factory), shed records showed that about 1,500 chickens had died or been ‘culled’ within the unit. Despite the victims being removed daily by workers, numerous dead birds were filmed heaped into bins, others were found on the shed floor. Factory farms are the perfect breeding ground for viruses and bacteria. Stressed animals stand for weeks or months on end in their own filth alongside dead and dying animals.

Whilst animals are treated as commodities and incarcerated inside crowded, filthy factory farms, it is naïve to imagine that they will not suffer high levels of infectious diseases. According to Dr Michael Greger, author of Bird Flu: a virus of our own hatching, farming animals for their meat, milk and eggs has unleashed many epidemics upon the human world. To prevent future outbreaks and an increase in superbug strains, the only answer is to stop farming animals and switch to a meat-free diet.

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