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Study Finds Raw Chickens from Farmers Markets Carry More Pathogens Than Those from Groceries

A new study out of Pennsylvania State University suggests that raw chickens from farmers markets may be more likely to carry foodborne pathogens than the same product found at grocery stores.

Researchers found that, out of a small sample of whole, uncooked chickens purchased throughout Pennsylvania, those from farmers markets were more likely to carry Campylobacter – the bacteria most commonly found on raw poultry. Levels of Salmonella were slightly higher among grocery-bought chickens than among farmers market-bought chickens, but overall bacterial loads were greater among farmers market chickens.

Out of 100 chicken purchased from farmers markets, the Penn State scientists found that 90 percent tested positive for Campylobacter and 28 percent tested positive for Salmonella.

In a sample of chickens purchased from grocery stores in the state over the same time period, 20 percent of organic, raw, whole birds tested positive for Campylobacter, while 28 percent tested positive for Salmonella. Among whole, nonorganic chickens bought at grocery stores, 8 percent were harboring Campylobacter, while 52 percent tested positive for Salmonella.

While it’s small in scope, the study — published in the Journal of Food Science – points to a need for more research on contamination of raw chicken at farmers markets, say its authors.

“Some people believe that local food is safer, but we want to caution that’s not always the case,” said Catherine Cutter, lead author of the study and food safety extension specialist at Penn State. ”We hope this small study will lead to more extensive research to determine why we are seeing the levels of pathogens in these products and to find ways to mitigate them,” Cutter told Penn State News.

“As patronage continues to increase at farmers markets and other direct-to-consumer marketing channels, the risks associated with purchasing fresh products directly from the farmer or vendor must be evaluated,” added Joshua Scheinberg, who conducted the research for his master’s degree in food science. “Potentially hazardous foods, such as milk, cheeses, and raw meat and poultry, also are popular at these venues.”

The study is available for purchase through the Wiley Online Library.

 

© Food Safety News
  • Farmfresh4me

    When I purchase a market fresh chicken the pathogens that are commonly found on poultry are not even a consideration as these will die when I cook them. Antibiotic, hormone free meat that was fed GMO free feed are as well as knowing I am buying meat that was raised humanely and in a sanitary environment. These will not go away with cooking. Sadly, you guys miss the point again, but I do believe that is intentional.

    • Vera

      If I add contamination %ages, farmers gets 48, while store – 60, so farmers still wins.

      • jane

        Reread: 90% + 28% = 118% from the farmer’s market. In addition, many people get sick and even die from these bacteria who also thought that their cooking skills would be sufficient to eliminate the risk.

  • crs

    Surely the point is simply that raw foods should be handled with care however politically correct the source.

  • LCM

    Farmfresh4me there are not GMO in animals for human consumption since it hasnt been legalized yet. On the other hand, there are thermophile pathogens that can be resistant to high temperature and also there are people who do not cook the chicken enough to kill the bacteria, so this study is important to realize that farmers market should care more about their products to avoid this high level of pathogens concentration.