Ground turkey rife with fecal contamination

Consumer Reports says more than half of the samples in its study were tainted with telltale bacteria.

By Jason Notte May 1, 2013 3:55PM

Turkeys (© Monty Rakusen/Cultura/Getty Images)You switched to ground turkey to avoid the mess made by the European horsemeat scare? Good for you. Just realize that half of the turkey you're eating is coated in feces.


In an announcement that's not likely to quiet your smug vegetarian and vegan friends any time soon, Consumer Reports says that more than half of the ground turkey samples it tested for a recent study were contaminated with fecal bacteria.


So to avoid unwittingly eating the horse found in ground beef at Burger King (BKW), Yum Brands' (YUM) Taco Bell, Wal-Mart (WMT) and Ikea outlets throughout Europe, folks have started eating . . . well . . . traces of poop.


The test covered 257 retail samples from 21 states and 27 different brands -- including Cargill's Shady Brook Farms, Jennie-OPerduePublix, Whole Foods (WFM) and Trader Joe's -- all purchased in retail stores. Almost 70% of the samples contained enterococcus, while 60% contained E. coli. Both are signs of fecal contamination.


Some of the bacteria found in the tested samples can cause food poisoning, as well as urinary, bloodstream and other infections. Overall, Consumer Reports found than more than 90% of the ground turkey samples it tested contained at least one of the bacteria its test was looking for -- salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, enterococcus and campylobacter. No campylobacter was found.


It wasn't great news for organic shoppers, either, as Consumer Reports found that conventional ground turkey and turkey labeled "no antibiotics," "organic," (which doesn't use antibiotics) or "raised without antibiotics" were equally likely to contain the four bacteria. The lone difference, the magazine says, is that the bacteria found in conventional turkey is far more likely to be resistant to the antibiotics used to fight them.


For its part, the National Turkey Federation industry group that represents the $29.5 billion turkey industry issued a press release calling the Consumer Reports study "alarmist." That tends to be the case when a consumer watchdog group sounds an alarm.


More on moneyNOW

May 1, 2013 7:49PM
 Is there anything  to eat today that's not contaminated, has chemicals, causes cancer, too much sugar, processed and has no nutrients, improperly shipped and stored incorrectly, handled by people who have transmittable diseases, outdated, moldy, too much salt, or just tastes like crap????
May 1, 2013 5:01PM
So, it appears those death row turkeys in the picture got the last laugh.  I'm just hoping we're talking about turkey poop and not something added by the human workers at the turkey plant.
May 1, 2013 5:43PM
Spend $250 for a decent meat grinder and grind your own.  Problem solved.
May 1, 2013 7:24PM
We need to return to the local butcher. We used to get our Thanksgiving turkey at a live poultry shop. We'd pick out a tasty looking bird. They'd kill it, clean it, and then sell it to us. It's better to know who has been handling your food,rather than to leave it to some anonymous stranger.  
May 1, 2013 5:14PM
That's a good alarmist, otherwise corporations will sell consumer packaged feces when they can't tell the difference.  Thank you Consumer Reports.
May 1, 2013 4:38PM
Anyone for a "healthy" turkey poop sandwich?
May 1, 2013 5:15PM
mmmmmmmm     one turkey poop sandwich coming up  ... like YUCK !
May 1, 2013 7:21PM
not surprised at all do we really know whats in all that prepacked product like wal-mart that comes in with 21 days shelf life?  try keeping fresh ground beef for 21 days in your fridge. just buy a nice muscle cut roast and have your local butcher grind it.........oh yeah walmart doesnt have a butcher!  local guys like myself would be happy to assist you in that. buy fresh, buy local.
May 1, 2013 6:10PM
Run back to the red meat! I'm sure that's what this is all about.  Stocks falling for the "beef" put out a scare article.
May 1, 2013 5:13PM
What a bunch of s**t!!!!!  HA HA HA!!!!!!
May 1, 2013 11:52PM
That's why you cook ground turkey, to kill bacteria like this.  Should any of this be a surprise to anyone?   Same thing for most all meat products.   And don't forget, e-coli has been found in many vegetables too.
May 1, 2013 7:18PM
So, we don't need more and better regulation.  Right!  Let's all have a turkey poop sandwich to help out the Free Market scumbags.
May 1, 2013 6:50PM

This consumer alert brought to you by the Beef lobby.

May 1, 2013 7:34PM
because we can always trust an industry to do a bang-up job of policing itself...

jeebus, if we keep letting the proverbial foxes watch the henhouses, how long will it be before we revert to the pre-Upton Sinclair standard of wondering how many actual meat-packers are packed in your meat? 
May 1, 2013 5:10PM
Great, keep laying off those 'worthless' government employees. 
May 1, 2013 7:32PM
"Alarmist", it should be.  Back in the 1800's it was common to get rotten and decayed meat.  Is this much better?  It is not a "level playing field" when the 'umps' and 'refs' are kept off the field and are underpaid.   Perdue got ultra-rich on chickens and turkeys.  Do you think he and his family pay a fair share of taxes so that we could have some more folks looking out for our interests?
May 9, 2013 8:43PM
the funniest thing is, if you read back lol . . . how many people have different conspiracy theories about this . . . :\
May 1, 2013 8:38PM

To think I eat low fat or little fat ground turkey at least once a week.It certainly was not good news for organic shoppers.Maybe the use of antibiotics will help.Immune cases come into play.



May 1, 2013 5:22PM
This is probalby a government clandestine report generated to generate sympathy for laid off govenment employees who worked for four times the average salary of the elite.  Even if true, the feces is proabably less harmful than the phamaldehide (spelling?) or whatever the curing agent is.  At worst, it is probably not as disgusting as the cum found in mayonnaise at a popular chain restaurant.
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