The study "includes sharp criticisms of the response by the (USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service) to the outbreaks, which it called 'insufficient to protect public health'," the Post reports. "In both cases, the department never asked Foster Farms to recall or stop shipping potentially contaminated chicken. The study also faults the department for failing to issue a public-health alert for the first outbreak, which lasted from June 2012 to April 2013. An alert was issued for the second outbreak, which began this March."
The Consumer Reports study, funded by Pew, "suggested that those lapses have contributed to the prevalence of potentially harmful bacteria that lurk in store-bought chicken," the Post writes. "The magazine independently tested more than 300 raw chicken breasts purchased from stores across the country and found that every major brand contained 'worrisome amounts' of pathogens such as salmonella and E.coli, including some strains resistant to treatment with antibiotics."
They found that "more than half the chicken breasts it tested were tainted with fecal contaminants, which can cause problems such as urinary tract infections in humans," the Post notes. "Half the samples contained at least one multidrug-resistant bacterium. In addition, researchers found no significant difference in the presence of troublesome bacteria between conventional chicken breasts and those labeled 'organic' or 'no antibiotics'."
Both studies "called for USDA to be more aggressive in pushing for recalls and alerting the public to potential outbreaks," the Post reports. "The groups said Congress should pass legislation to give the USDA mandatory recall authority. Currently, the department can put pressure on companies to recall products but, unlike the Food and Drug Administration, cannot force recalls." (Read more)