Small poultry farmers are not required to be inspected by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and may be less motivated to follow safety practices that exist to reduce pathogens. Researchers speculate that farmers may not be using “antimicrobial rinses properly in processing, as indicated by the high counts of fecal and other bacteria that were also found on farmers’ market chicken.”
90 percent of whole chickens tested and bought at farmers’ markets in Pennsylvania were found harboring Campylobacter, while 28 percent had Salmonella. Tests of conventional, nonorganic whole chickens at chain supermarkets found that 52 percent had Campylobacter and 8 percent had Salmonella. Store-bought organic chickens had 28 percent and 20 percent having the two bacteria types.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Campylobacter is “one of the most common causes of diarrheal illness in the United States.” Most cases are random events and are not the result of an outbreak. Symptoms of Campylobacteriosis include diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever within two to five days after infection. A Salmonella infection includes many of the same symptoms, with the illness lasting 4 to 7 days. Both illnesses can be very dangerous if the person infected has a weakened immune system, however most individuals will recover fully.
This is not to say that you should be especially wary of chicken raised on local farms, but simply that you should not assume they’re any less likely to be contaminated than chicken sold at major supermarkets. Buying chicken locally is still a sustainable action which supports local farmers and decreases the amount of time, money, and energy normally used for transporting the meat. The bottom line is to make sure to cook all poultry to the safe internal temperature of 165F/74C before eating.
Make sure to consult your primary care physician or chiropractor for all health related advice.
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