The Scandal of Britain’s Deadly Chickens: 280,000 People Sickened Every Year

Two thirds of fresh chickens sold in Britain are contaminated by the potentially deadly campylobacter bug.

Over a quarter of a million people are poisoned every year in the U.K. by this bacterium; and the majority of infections are caused by contaminated chicken. Although the bug can be killed by thorough cooking, 280,000 people in the U.K. get sick each year from it, and at least 100 people die from it. Contamination rates are known to have increased in the past decade.

Why is this happening? The Guardian newspaper decided to launch an investigation to find out why chicken is making so many British people sick.

What they found was horrific.

Factory Floor Flooded With Chicken Guts

Using undercover footage, photographic evidence and information from whistleblowers, investigators discovered that strict industry hygiene standards to prevent the contamination of chicken with the potentially deadly campylobacter bug are ignored both on the factory floor and on farms.

Specific incidents identified included a factory floor flooded with chickens guts in which the bacteria can flourish, carcasses coming into contact with workers’ boots then returned to the production line, and other poor practices involving points in the production chain that increase the risk of its spread.

As a result, three of the U.K.’s leading supermarkets, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer, have launched emergency investigations into their chicken supplies.

The Real Scandal: Government Cover-Up

The U.K. government, on the other hand, seems to be employing a “wait and see” approach: the Food Standards Agency (FSA) decided to shelve a promise to name and shame supermarkets and processors for their campylobacter rates, after pressure from the poultry industry and other government departments.

As The Guardian reports:

…an abattoir in Scunthorpe, in the north of England, owned by the U.K.’s largest poultry processor, 2 Sisters, supplies many of the leading supermarkets and fast-food restaurants. When the lines are running fast, chickens fall on the floor. They should go in to red bins for waste, not blue bins for human food. Our undercover filming shows a manager picking one up and throwing it back in to food production. 2 Sisters told us it had spoken to the individual concerned. The Food Standards Agency inspected the factory after seeing our film. It says there will be no penalty because the company has taken action to ensure this does not happen again. The FSA rated the factory as “good”.

Of course, we already know about the horrific conditions that exist at many factory farms. Now we are also learning, perhaps not surprisingly, how the poultry industry disdains both the chickens it is raising, and the health of the humans those chickens are destined for.

The horsemeat scandal of last year is still fresh in the minds of British consumers: the discovery of horsemeat in processed beef products sold by a number of U.K. supermarket chains resulted in a series of product recalls and threw the spotlight on the food industry’s supply chain. It also inspired a stricter food testing regime across Europe.

As a result, it was reported that around six in ten of all consumers of frozen beef burgers decided to give up red meat altogether.

How to Make Sure Your Chicken Is Safe

It’s a pretty safe bet that factory farmed chickens worldwide suffer from the same horrific conditions and possible contaminations, so how to avoid getting sick?

*  GO to a local, independent butcher, not a supermarket;
*  BUY directly from a farm or a farmers’ market;
*  DECODE the buzzwords, such as organic, grass-fed, free range, outdoor bred, to make sure you know what you are buying.

Best of all, avoid chicken and all meats!

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

Angie P.
Angie P2 years ago

Just stop eating chicken.

Dale O.

The author mentions:

"...investigators discovered that strict industry hygiene standards to prevent the contamination of chicken with the potentially deadly campylobacter bug are ignored both on the factory floor and on farms."

Time for strictly enforced crack downs on the endless violations of industry standards, the hiring of more food inspectors and strict enforcement of tougher legislation is in order in these situations.

The author offers her own 'solution' by stating: "Best of all, avoid chicken and all meats!"

Easy for you to say if you are vegan or vegetarian, but omnivores are omnivore for a reason, we eat meat. Just avoid factory farmed meat and dismantle factory farms to begin with.

Dale O.

Try also requiring that this industry require video cameras in the workplace, always.

A new update on 'No Name' and yet another theatrical costume change to the latest 'new' profile (pertaining to my two comments on Oct 4, 2014 at 7:50 a.m., PDT). There has been a change of socks and the 'latest' profile joining date is today, October 10th.
All of the other details on the profile are exactly the same as mentioned in my previous comments, including the delivery of the last Thank You Note for visiting Care2 on the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, which still says: "Delivered on August 9, 2014."

August 9? Not bad for someone who joined on Oct 10th and has a comment on the profile page on the right hand side, which by the way, is still dated September the 9th. This just keeps on building more and more chapters to the Saga of the Mysterious, traversing the yellow brick road, no doubt. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? No doubt, there will be a position against the eating of both should this thread be remembered.

Dale O.

A correction for my earlier comment, as I was editing it and forgot to remove several words, so the sentence left in the thread earlier did not make grammatical sense. At 7:51 a.m., October 4, the last sentence should have read:

They are confident enough in the lifestyle that they have chosen for themselves and they know that there are also many omnivores in the world. These vegans are fighting against factory farms, as are many omnivores, who also fight against factory farms and who also avoid buying food from factory farm sources.

Dale O.

No Name states at 9:34am PDT on Oct 2, 2014

" . ..Gee, maybe they want be a vegan so they aren't killing animals. Pretty simple. Some people are aware and care and some just don't care. This about a quarter million of people who are poisoned every year eating deadly chickens.. All you care is about is eating MEAT and its sickening. Go vegan! Is better for the environment and for the animals!"

Just where is it that vegans 'go,' anyway? Since three percent of the world happens to be vegan, it is not a choice that a lot of people are making. There will be new vegans, that is hardly unexpected, however, people who follow the option of not eating meat will more likely choose to become vegetarian as they can then still eat eggs, drink milk, eat cheese, yogurt and honey if they prefer to go for not eating meat. As for food poisoning, more people get food borne illnesses from leafy greens than from chicken, or didn't you realize this fact? Re-posting the link in case you didn't see it.

Dale O.

No Name said that: "Some people are aware and care and some just don't care."

I am very aware of my protein requirements and care enough to boycott factory farms.

You go on to say: "All you care is about is eating MEAT and its sickening."

Fascinating allegation, No Name, but since my diet is 90 percent plant-based, you haven't got a clue as to what you are talking about, at least when it comes to me. People do eat meat, it has been part of many people's diets for eons and just because you find it 'sickening,' doesn't mean that the rest of the world is going to stop eating meat. Many omnivores source their meat from ethical sources and ensure that our meat, eggs, etc., come from small farms where the animals are treated well. If there is a 'vegan world,' then most farm animals would eventually become extinct, or very rare.

Dale O.

Few people will ever have pet cows and some will certainly remain wandering about the fields and even in the streets in India, but for the most part, these farm animals will not be around. No sheep grazing in fields, etc. As for the environment, factory farms have got to change and as for the animals, if they live in conditions that are humane, then they will have lived a quality life, but farm animals are food. 'Sickening' to eat meat, well, perhaps to some people not eating it, but many realize that much of the world does eat it and don't condemn everyone's diet.

You are not forced to eat meat. The vegan friends that I have do not criticize me for eating meat, since my source is humane. They are confident enough in the lifestyle that they have chosen for themselves and know that there are a lot of omnivores around in the world and fight those vegans are fighting against factory farms as many omnivores who avoid them also do.

Dale O.

Okay, No Name, I have responded to the points that you made, now I have some questions for you. I had a look at your profile, it shows that you had joined on September 23 of this year, yet you have Thank You Notes from well before that. Funny, that, especially the one that you received on August 9 of this year, a month before you joined Care2. Very intriguing indeed. Not to mention, you have a person commenting on your profile on the right hand side thanking you...on September 6th, yet you joined on September 23rd. Amazing, that. Renting TARDIS for time travel?

It even gets more mysterious, as your profile shows up where someone else was commenting before you even joined, that older profile with another 'No Name,' earlier in this thread, who began commenting on August 18th/4:13 p.m., that profile goes straight to your present profile...8:52 a.m./Aug. 30, 10:38 a.m./Aug 30, 1:51 p.m./Aug 30, 3:13 p.m./Aug. 30/, 4:37 p.m./Aug. 30, 10:32 p.m./Aug, 30th, Aug 31/11:30 a.m.,/11:31 a.m, then Oct. 2 at 9:34 a.m. I clicked on her previous comments and they all lead to your present profile.

Dale O.

Amazing, as I am listening to the tune of 'Play It Again Sam', in an L-shaped room, as in how can someone who joined on September 23rd, possibly have the same profile (and ID number) in comments made from as early as August 18?

Yet, in this thread you had accused Alex P, in your words: ..."Alex P, this a "game" for you." That was said back on Aug., 31 at 11: 31 a.m. That is certainly most intriguing.

Yes, that word again, as you remember it so well, very recently from yet another "Former" thread. "Intri"..., right? The comments go back to August 9, 2014 in that thread. Interesting 'games' indeed, most intriguing.