A series of lab tests conducted by Consumer Reports finds that most ground turkey tested was contaminated by the kinds of fecal bacteria that can sicken humans who eat it.
A full 69 percent of samples contained enterococcus bacteria, while 60 percent had escherichia coli, both of which are associated with fecal contamination. Most of the contaminated samples contained antibiotic resistant bacteria, too — a growing concern for major factory farms where birds are fed drugs to keep diseases from spreading.
The consumer watchdog criticized the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) standards for salmonella, particularly for facilities where turkey is processed.
Citing multiple turkey recalls issued by Cargill Meat Solutions Corp. in 2011 in response to a salmonella outbreak that sickened over 130 people, the magazine noted that a package of turkey from Cargill’s facility in Springdale tested positive for antibiotic-resistant salmonella more than a year after the recalls.
Turkey that was raised “organic” or not given antibiotics, they found, generally had less bacterial contamination.
Thankfully, avoiding poop-laced turkey burgers isn’t that difficult. Consumer Reports recommends buying turkey labeled “organic” or “no antibiotics,” and making sure it cooks all the way through by using a meat thermometer.
The USDA also recommends the use of a meat thermometer particularly with ground turkey, which can look pinkish and under-cooked due to flavorings used by distributors.