The misnamed Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (less than 10 percent of its members are physicians) wants you to worry about your chicken. Actually, PCRM doesn’t want you to eat chicken at all. So it’s no surprise to see a non-peer-reviewed report released by this vegan activist group with ties to PETA alleging that your ready-to-cook chicken could be contaminated with feces.
So, should you swear off poultry to save your bowels? Experts say no. For one, Michael Doyle of the University of Georgia Center for Food Safety notes that “Poop gets into your food […] produce is grown in soil fertilized with manure, and there’s E. coli in that, too.” (We’re waiting for PCRM’s press releases on fecal traces in sprouts and spinach, but not holding our breath.)
Dirk Fillpot of the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) found additional problems with the analysis and report. First, he indicates, “[PCRM’s report] assumes that the presence of generic E. coli could only come from contact with feces, when that is simply not the case.” Catherine Cutter of Pennsylvania State University also said that PCRM couldn’t reasonably identify the cause of increased microbial levels.
But surely the presence of E. coli is worrying, right? Wrong. According to FSIS’s Fillpot, “The E. coli identified in the study is not a type that would make consumers ill.”
Facts—they’re so inconvenient, especially when they get in the way of a PR ploy.
So, in short, rather than finding evidence of widespread harmful contamination of store-bought chicken with toxic feces, PCRM seems to have found some traces of bacteria that federal regulators say won’t make consumers ill that might be linked to chicken feces but might not. We think that sounds like par for the course for the group that absurdly believes giving children dairy products is child abuse and compares bacon to cigarettes.