LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Birds of a feather really do stick together, especially when it comes to the level of bacteria and parasites in their meat, according to a new study.
A report released on Thursday says poultry — both chicken and turkey — causes more foodborne disease than any other type of food.
Researchers at the University of Florida’s Food Pathogen Institute ranks poultry as the most dangerous of foods when it comes to bacteria, viruses or parasites.
Dr. Glenn Morris of the institute told KNX 1070 that each year 1 in 6 people get sick from their food, and partly blames the ever-widening food chain for the outbreaks.
“There are certain things that are out of the hands of consumers,” Morris said. “Our food no longer grows in the backyard; it gets trucked or flown in from thousands of miles away.”
He points to the “much-maligned” regulatory process as offering at least some help to ensure health standards are met.
The top five illness-causing pathogens cause $12.7 billion in economic losses each year, with poultry products alone accounting for nearly $2 billion annually.
Both producers and consumers also fall short in another area: food handling. The study suggests many foodborne diseases can be curbed by improved food handling, storage and preparation in restaurants, cafeterias, deli counters, and other professional kitchens.
“The problem one runs into with poultry or other raw meats in the kitchen,” Morris said, “is that while you may subsequently cook the chicken, if you put the chicken on your counter-top, the micro-organisms that may be present on the chicken may then be left on the counter-top to be picked up by other foods that you may not be cooking.”
You can check out complete results from the study on “Keeping America’s Food Supply Safe” here.