NPR’s Fresh Air recently discussed antibiotic-resistant bacteria in chicken meat. Guest Maryn McKenna, a public health journalist, detailed how bacteria in chicken causes urinary tract infections in women.
Yes, you read that right. Sounds crazy, but here’s how it happens.
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria in chicken can escape our digestive system and travel into the urinary system. This often feels just like a regular UTI. But when the doctor prescribes a standard set of antibiotics, nothing happens.
Since UTIs are so common, affected people might think they’ve been re-infected, when in reality the original UTI was never cured. Untreated UTIs are dangerous; they can get worse and cause a kidney infection. They can also lead to bloodstream infections, which can infect other organs.
In the United States, 6 to 8 million UTIs occur in women every year. Of these, an estimated 10 percent could be due to antibiotic-resistant bacteria from chicken. That’s about 600,000 to 800,000 cases a year.
A 2013 report from the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System found that around 40 percent of all chicken meat contained antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
These superbugs get their start at factory farms where tens of thousands of chickens are crammed in sheds. To maximize profits, farmers breed the chickens to grow so quickly they often become immobilized under their own weight. In addition to causing debilitating pain, heart attacks, and organ failure, this abuse forces birds to sit in their own waste. All this turns factory farms into breeding grounds for disease.
In fact, the USDA estimates that around 25 percent of cut-up chicken meat and about 50 percent of all ground chicken meat is contaminated with salmonella. Additionally, one USDA report stated that 90 percent of defects discovered in chicken carcasses at slaughter plants involved "visible fecal contamination that was missed by company employees." In an attempt to combat disease, factory farmers often rely on antibiotics. Overuse of these drugs creates antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Sadly, chickens are some of the most abused animals on the planet and make up about 95 percent of the animals raised and killed for food in the U.S.
Even worse, not a single U.S. federal law provides protection to animals during their lives at factory farms. What’s more, the law that’s supposed to protect animals at slaughterhouses, the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, doesn’t extend to birds, leaving chickens with virtually no protection from abuse.
A Mercy For Animals investigation at a Tyson farm in Tennessee shows thousands of birds living in unconscionable conditions and being thrown around and beaten.
See for yourself.
Thankfully, you can avoid a UTI and stop contributing to horrific animal abuse simply by switching to a compassionate vegan diet. Click here to get started!
Click here for a list of mouthwatering chicken substitutes.