WASHINGTON, D.C. — Government records show that the largest cause of foodborne illness in the United States, just ahead of salmonella, was sold in tens of thousands of meat products across the United States between 2015 and 2020.
A report out from London-based non-profit The Bureau of Investigative Journalism cites U.S. government records which reportedly show that U.S. companies like Perdue, Pilgrim's Pride, Tyson, Foster Farms and Koch Foods, which are giants in the industry, all sold a huge amount of poultry products contaminated with campylobacter and salmonella, sampling records show.
Over half of the meat sampled showed that it was contaminated with antibiotic-resistant strains of the pathogens, according to government records. Major grocery stores and fast-food restaurants across the U.S. are supplied by these U.S poultry giants on a regular basis.
The reporting, which was done in collaboration with Vice News revealed that the USDA considers a certain level of salmonella and campylobacter sold on poultry in the United States acceptable, but records reflect that 12 large poultry companies in the United States have exceeded those USDA standards for acceptable levels of the pathogens "multiple times" since 2018.
While plants that continuously exceed USDA limits for selling infected meat can be temporarily shut down, shipments of meat sold with rates that exceed the USDA's threshold don't have to be recalled, the reporting states. Vice News cited government records reportedly showing that between January 2015 and August 2019, those same 12 major U.S. meat processors broke safety rules at least 145,000 times, or an average of 80 times per day.
According to Vice News, one Tyson worker in Arkansas alleged that sometimes the meat "comes to us really dirty." The worker also claimed that in their experience meat sometimes "has flies, it has crickets, cockroaches in there already frozen.” The worker claimed that supervisors weren't interested in the issue when it was reported.
Campylobacter is said to cause more than 100 deaths every year in the United States.