90% of Meat Samples Contained Fecal Bacteria

The most recent NARMS retail meat report stated 90 percent of pork chops, ground beef and ground turkey, and 95 percent of chicken breasts, were  contaminated with fecal bacteria. Their results are based on tests of 5,280 samples. Eleven states bought about 40 samples each month, with 10 each of chicken breasts, ground turkey, ground beef, and pork chops. Each of the state labs ran tests for various bacteria in the meat samples.

Enterococcus isolates (both susceptible and resistant) were found on 95.4 percent of chicken breasts, 90.7 percent of ground turkey, 90.2 percent of ground beef, and  88.3 percent of pork chops. Nearly 78 percent of chicken breasts had E. coli, as did 80 percent of ground turkey, 58 percent of ground beef and 39 percent of pork chops.

There are 17 Enterococcus species but only a few cause clinical infections in humans.

One of the peculiar assumptions of carnism, the meat-eating belief system, is that it is healthy, but is eating fecal bacteria regularly a healthy practice?

Another fascinating bit of information is that burgers from fast-food restaurants sometimes don’t contain much that would normally be called meat: “researchers discovered waste and by-products including connective tissue, nerve tissue, cartilage, bone, and in a quarter of the samples, Sarcocystis parasites. But surely these fillers were the minority, right? Unfortunately not. After crunching the numbers, the researchers found that the amount of actual meat (muscle flesh) in the burgers ranged from 2.1 percent to 14.8 percent.” (Source: Huffington Post)

If many meat products contain fecal bacteria, and most consumers are unaware of this probability, and they are unaware of what they are eating when they purchase fast-food burgers and hot dogs, the main issue must be the lack of consumer awareness. Why would people eat things that don’t know anything about though?

Is it laziness, habit, groupthink, herd behavior, effects of mass media advertising, lack of culpability and transparency for food providers, or some combination of all of the above? The trend can clearly be described as unhealthy due to the prevalence of heart disease and obesity in America.

The NARMS retail meat surveillance program is a joint effort of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the health departments of 11 states. You can read the whole report on the FDA site.

Image Credit: J.M.Garg

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Richard T.
Richard T3 years ago

So Glad I am a Vegan!

John Palmer
John P4 years ago

Conclusions (continued):
2) The samples taken for each test are incredibly small and only taken from 4 sites in 4 states (the same sites as well) which one can conclude is an extremely small sample set when making claims of 90-95% of ALL meat in the country contains fecal matter
3) The actual AMOUNTS of bacteria found in each sample is not noted in the report.
4) The numbers provided in the article of percentages and sample sizes are not correct when compared to those actually cited in the report.

Final conclusion:
Claim: 90-95% of all meat in the country contains fecal matter
Truth: The information contained in the report does not provide enough data to even potentially back up this claim.
Bonus: Heating meat to high enough temperatures kills the bacteria!
After sufficient cooking meat is safe to eat. (Though I'm sure this isn't something to 100% trust in as with anything, there's always exceptions and outside variables)

John Palmer
John P4 years ago

Some inconsistencies...

As per the document: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/AntimicrobialResistance/NationalAntimicrobialResistanceMonitoringSystem/UCM293581.pdf cited in this article:
-This is an report outlining the resistances of bacteria and not a report on the percentages of bacteria found in meat country-wide.
-Citing only examples for Chicken Breasts and Ground Beef as the others can be found in the report and are not necessary for making the point of this comment.

The actual findings that relate to the claims found in this article:
-Chicken breasts:
*Samples taken from a total of 3,087 chicken breasts from 4 sites each in a different state (4 states) over the course of 9 years tested for Escherichia Coli, 83.1% of these 3,087 samples tested positive.
*Samples taken from a total of 2,579 chicken breasts again from 4 sites/4 states over the course of 9 years tested for Enterococcus, 93.1% tested positive.

-Ground beef:
*Samples taken from a total of 3,831 ground beef portions from 4 sites/4 states over the course of 9 years tested for Enterococcus, 93% tested positive.
*Samples taken from a total of 3,818 ground beef portions from 4 sites each in a different state (4 states) over the course of 9 years tested for Escherichia Coli,67.5% tested positive.

1) The report is on resistances of bacteria to treatment and not a report on how much of the countries food supply tests positive for these bacteria

Angie B.
Angela B6 years ago

Thanks for the info. I buy meat from my local farmer and I am satisfied in it's quality. I like the fact that he cares about his animals. (put the lid down on your toilet seat)

Yo K.
Yo K.6 years ago

Am I on crazy pills? Anyone arguing that fecal matter is fine to eat is choosing to stay in the dark for the sake of not doing the hard thing, which is admitting that modern day meat is poopy, cancer-ridden tortue food, and choosing not to eat it is harder than eating poop. As for your tooth brush theory at least my tooth brush is covered in MY poop, and not the poop of several sick, antibiotic filled (rendering YOU antibiotic resistant), animals.

Unfortunately, your parents and their parents meat is not the meat you're eating. And for whatever reason, people seem to treat vegans as the christian extremists of the food world for no reason other than because it's different. No matter if you eat meat or not, compassion for how the animals are treated is an issue. No matter if you think meat is healthy, the modern day farming practices are alarmingly detrimental to the environment and human health. And to the argument that humans were meant to eat meat...tell me...without tools, would you be able to catch and tear the flesh off the animals you currently eat with your teeth? Would you be able to consume it raw and not get sick? Educate yourself on the meat and dairy industry and stop suckling at the teet of those whose interest it is to keep you eating this stuff.

Dale Overall

Yes a toothbrush can contain fecal bacteria if left out in the bathroom, especially when flushing the toilet and it gets misted with the spray if the brush is close to the toilet bowl. So true!

Everyone get a grip and breathe! A server in a restaurant, a chef or line cook, a doctor, so many people if they fail to wash their hands enough can transfer fecal bacteria to foods they prepare be it chicken, meat or lettuce.

Bacteria lurks everywhere giving us food poisoning even in our bagged spinach.

Have no intention of giving up meat, prefer organic meat and veggies as it is food in its purest form but I never forget that even organic spinach can be filled with bacteria. Won't give spinach up any time soon either any more than I will give up meat.

Angela N.
Angela N6 years ago


Duane B.
.6 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Terry Vanderbush
Terry V6 years ago


Heidi Aubrey
Heidi Aubrey6 years ago

Also apple juice and other fruit juices as well. By the way, most do not cause illness.