Saturday, October 16, 2010

Why is raw chicken meat so dangerous?

Ever wonder why there is such strong wording around being extremely careful when handling raw chicken meat in the kitchen? No other meat carries warnings such as raw poultry about contamination, bacteria, washing, etc.  We hear these common safety rules, but ever wonder WHY the chicken meat from our stores carries such stronger danger warnings?

The reality is that raw poultry, ALL raw poultry purchased from grocery stores and butcher is laced with bacteria. Virtually every scrap of meat must be cooked properly to reduce the risk of food poisoning. Raw poultry is so dangerous that the juice dripping off the raw poultry, should it come in contact with other uncooked foods, will virtually guarantee a bout of food poisoning of some degree.

So why is poultry so dangerous? Beef, pork, lamb, even seafood do not carry such strong warnings. I ran across this article today that helps to explain the mystery. If you eat poultry, and buy it from a local store, take a moment to read this article:

In short, it is NOT natural for poultry to be contaminated with bacteria so commonly. This is entirely a condition caused by America's food system, factory farming. It is these bad farming practices that are bringing the bacteria to our kitchens, not nature, no the chickens, it is man.

How sad is it that chickens raised on these factory farms, where 99% of the chicken in America comes from, are so mistreated that the nature given stress hormones allow bacteria to consume the chicken. Is this nature's way of stopping us from eating unhealthy chickens? Isn't this a signal to us that something is horribly wrong? It is truly impossible to "tweak" the factory farming system and thereby eliminate the food risk modern factory chicken brings to our kitchens and families. The system itself is wrought with so many bad processes that just reducing the numbers of chickens will have little if any effect. There still would be the mistreatment, rapid growth, overwhelming ammonia in the air, unsanitary conditions on the ground, constant antibiotics to reduce bacteria, and poor nutrition.  There would still be processing methods that virtually ensure fecal matter from inside the chickens is spilled int other cleansing water, contaminating the meat so badly that chlorine must be used to bring the bacteria count down to government acceptable standards ( the standards that say its ok for "one drop of juice to cause food poisoning) The only way to prevent stress hormone is to eliminate the sources of stress, all of them.

At Little Sprouts Farm, we are committed to providing poultry that is stress and bacteria free. Our birds are free to roam most of the time, and even when caged for particular reasons there is much more space per bird than the government recommends, and the coops have free air movement, sunshine, and are moved around the green grass as needed. They are provides organic feed, bugs, grass, and a host of treats. They roam the farm as chickens have for all of history until recently when factory farms became "the way". They are allowed to be what nature intended them to be, free chickens and turkeys.

The cost of decent food is a bit higher, that is undeniable. BUT, the choice is really between poultry that is laced with bacteria to the point that "a single drop of juice can cause food poisoning" and poultry that is bacteria free and full of healthy nutrition instead of antibiotics. The choice is between food fit to eat and food so dangerous it must carry warning label's. The cost of cheap food is in bad health, sickness, and resulting health care.

Little sprouts farm is committed to producing food so high above government standards that it is not dangerous to your health, but doing so at a reasonable financial cost. We think health of our families is more valuable than cheap "food".


  1. Whoa! THanks for this great article! I will be very careful with chicken meat now..

  2. I must say.. it is amazing to me that this one story is by far the most popular on the entire blog. In fact this page consistently more than twice the hits of any other page, and this trend continues from the point I posted it until today with no end in sight. Apparently people are severely worried or at least interested in why chicken meat is so dangerous!

  3. Amazingly ... this single page is still by far the most visited page on our blog, EVER. with 3 times the traffic of any other topic or story. Goes to show just how dangerous factory produced poultry is, and how many people are concerned with this danger.

  4. Raw chicken is dangerous because humans aren't designed to eat meat. Our stomach acid just isn't strong enough to kill dangerous bacteria and break down raw flesh. But if you feed raw chicken, unnaturally overrun with it's own bacteria or not, to an omnivorous animal, such as a fox or dog, the animal would be fine. They can eat the digestive systems and ingesta of animals because they have evolved the stomach acid to do so. Non-poultry meat is often contaminated with E-coli, which comes from their guts too. The slaughtering and mechanical butchering process is so rapid that ingesta ends up all over the flesh. Because chickens are small, it is more difficult for slaughterhouse machinary and workers to separate all parts of their body efficiently, so poultry is more often contaminated.
    It will be little different for your chicken, since they are all killed en masse in slaughterhouses like all other farmed animals. The digestive systems of any animal in the world will always contain some amount of dangerous bacteria.

    1. Thanks for the comment, however it seems you missed the main point of the post. I am not referring to consumption of raw chicken, but rather pointing out that raw storebought chicken is so contaminated with bacteria that just a single drop of liquid from a Package, passed to another food through some cross contamination, can cause serious illnesses. raw factory produced chicken is a very dangerous thing indeed!

    2. Another point if like to clarify is that our poultry, chicken turkey or duck, is not machine processed. You are correct that mechanical processing is itself one of the problems. Thus type of factory style processing increases the chance of mass contamination. However , our open air, hand processing methods greatly reduce this problem. So even if the starting point was the same, even if our chickens had the danger high levels of bacteria while alive, hand processing reduces the contamination significantly.

    3. A third point I'd like to make is that there are two problems better. The processing increases the cross contamination of individual birds, ensuring that all are as contaminated as the worst one. Yet the other problem is the starting point, that factory produced poultry lives in a high level of bacteria contamination. The living conditions, breeds, feeds, management all work together to increase the numbers of bacteria while the birds are alive. Bottom line, factory birds are sick, almost too sick to stay alive without constant antibiotics. Their digestive systems are awash in pathogenic bacteria just live any animal feed poorly. So bottom line is, there is many more pathogenic bacteria to begin with, then the processing method ensure that all birds are contaminated equally. Both problems work together to increase the danger.

    4. On a separate topic, i would caution about assuming that humans lack the ability to properly digest raw meats. There are plenty of people today who regularly consume these with no ill effects. In fact they claim that in a healthy body raw meats are best.

      There is s real problem in our society today of assuming that average is normal. As the general health of humans declines, average falls further and further from original normal. This is not"evolution" over millions of years, this is disease over generations. Today much of the population can not consume grains without Ill effects, not because of evolution, but because of several Generations of bad food weakening the children at an earlier an earlier age, this is the Bacterial balance of the digestive system, changing slowly by bag foods, until the average person can no longer consume grains. However within a number of months this diseased state can bee reversed and average can become normal again.

  5. This is simply fascinating... This one post is still WAY BEYOND the popularity of any other post in the entire 4 years we have been producing this blog. It has 4x the hits of any other page! Most of the hits seem to come from searches such as "dangerous raw chicken".

    Apparently the problem with factory chicken meat is much broader than even I imagined.

  6. Thanks for a great article!

    A few years back I changed to only eating organic chicken. Mostly, aside from lamb I only eat organic meat. New years promise 2013 is to only eat organic meat (aside from lamb). Lamb I consider to be okay, even the non-organic animals are treated quite decent and eat mostly organic food (grass) anyways.

    "What reason" may you ask?

    Non-organic animals are tortured their whole lives. They live miserable lives and are killed in a brutal way. I do not support animal torture, in fact I only want to eat happy and well treated animals. I support animal welfare. Animals should live "natural lives in natural ways" before eaten.

    Non organic animals eat food not meant for the animal. Cows are not suppose to eat genetically modified corn, cows are suppose to eat grass! Chickens aren't suppose to eat fishbones or GM soy, GM corn or any of those things, chickens are suppose to eat a rich diet that they find on the ground. Pigs eat all kind of stuff, but they are not suppose to live on GM corn.

    The kind of foods eaten by most non-organic animals is a disaster. The living conditions of these animals is a scandal.

    Pigs are not suppose to live inside, stuffed side by side in a tiny area. Chickens are not suppose to live in a huge area, stacked on top of eat other, not being able to move. Cows are not support to permanently stand in the barn.

    All these animals are suppose to live free in the nature, with plenty of space, natural diet and calm conditions. Those things you can taste on the meat when you eat it, which is another reason I eat organic food.

    Ask yourself this: A woman who eats candy for breakfast, GM corn for lunch, fat dripping pizza for second lunch, 5 hamburgers for dinner, chips and candy for evenings, while drinking coca cola the whole time instead of water. This woman sits on the couch all day watching tv, showers once a week maximum and never goes outside in the fresh air. She has the curtains in front of her windows, never washes the house. Its dark and dirty outside. Additionally, really noisy construction work is going on outside all the time, so she constantly lives in fear. She is fat, ugly and never takes care of herself. Is that a woman you would have sex with?

    Now think of the animals above, the non-organic ones, are those animals you want to eat?

    For me, the answer is, damn no, no way.

  7. organic means absolutely nothing when it comes to animal products. if you really cared about the animals you would either raise and slaughter them yourself or not eat them at all. Organic is just one of the terms along with "cage-free", "natural", "free-range", "grass-fed", etc. which is used by large corporations to exploit the customers into thinking that they are eating compassionately.

    1. That is a strong statement to make, especially from an anonymous account! And I must add, erroneous.

      Organic does not mean nothing, because raising an animal organically MEANS that the animal must be in a reasonably healthy environment to survive. Since no antibiotics are routinely given, the animal must be healthy enough to withstand his own environment. In a factory farm this is impossible. Inorganic chicken is raised under such deplorable conditions that the only way they stay alive is a constant dose of antibiotics.

      That said.. I agree that "organic" is only the beginning, and says little by itelf in the larger picture. You can rest assured that "organic" means "more compassionate" than non-organic, but that doesnt say much by itelf, no. If you follow this blog you will see that we advocate only small farm, traditional, open air pasture raising of animals.

      Thanks for your comment!

  8. Oboy, this sounds like such a good place to grow up for a chicken- Until slaughtered....

  9. Hi, I was raised on a cattle feed lot. We had 640 acres of beautiful pasture where the cattle would graze. When they were big enough they were sold to the slaughter house.
    They got antibiotic shots and hormones so I guess they were not organic, but they were free to eat as much alfalfa, had fresh water and were free to wander wherever they wanted. I don't think some one can lump all livestock into "organic, well treated -or non-organic mistreated". Also a happy cow is a better tasting cow.

  10. You got a really useful blog I have been here reading for about an hour. I am a newbie and your success is very much an inspiration for me.

    Meat Butcher Shop in UK & Quality Butchers In UK

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  12. Amazing point.. this page, written FIVE years ago now, is still outperforming all other pages we have produced. In fact, this page consistently receives 10x the traffic of all others, every month. This tells me.. people are VERY concerned with chicken meat... and they should be!

  13. ...and here I am one year later. Your post has good reasons to be popular! I enjoyed learning some new info, like how chicken is much smaller, thus harder to separate. Your distinction of the two issues is also an important one for average people to understand. I wish people would think about factory farming more: it's ike keeping cats or dogs in chronically diseased state and then eating it. If we did that to our pets we'd be considered animal abusers, not to mention really weird / mentally ill. I try to buy free range at least 80% of the time. What took me here? A google search after someone posted this on Facebook for a laugh: