Tag Archives: USDA

Skip the Slaughter: Microbiology Edition

Just in time for the most tragic day of the year for our feathered friends, presenting the top pathogens likely to be chilling in your turkey this year.Campylobacter jejuni lives in the gut of poultry and is commonly found in turkey poop.  When you catch this nasty bug, look forward to it incubating in your intestinal track before surprising you with a debilitating stomach flu and bloody diarrhea 2-5 days after exposure.Clostridium perfringens can grow without oxygen and can create spores that are resistant to cooking temperatures.  The bacteria grows in poultry that has lingered too long before cooking or in meat that is improperly reheated.  This bug causes gas gangrene.  Uh huh, it is responsible for the bloating in decomposing corpses.Escherichia coli O157:H7 (E. coli) inhabits the intestinal tract of warm-blooded animals, but due to unsafe food handling practices, it pops up in turkey too.  This particular strand causes enterhemorrhaging, which is a fancy way of saying internal intestinal bleeding or bloody butt.Listeria monocytogenes is found in water, soil and sewage.  This nasty bug causes listeriosis, which can manifest in a mononucleosis-like infection or meningitis. 20-30% of clinical infections result in death, making it the most deadly of all the food borne pathogens.  Added bonus: it can cause spontaneous abortion.  By the way, there was a recall on Listeria-contaminated turkey just last week.Zoonotic, Salmonella can be passed from your pets to you and back again.  Bitch doesn’t discriminate and will incubate where it can.  Hearty Salmonella is not destroyed by freezing and lives easily outside its host for years.  For the healthy, a nasty case of diarrhea ensues, but for the immune-compromised the consequences could be much more serious.

Shigellosis isn’t the latest dance craze; it is the delicious form of dysentery brought to you by Shigella.  This crazy bacteria uses a biological syringe to inject healthy cells with a protein which triggers invasion.  Turkey or sides are contaminated by hand mixing and by subsequent incomplete cooking.Highly contagious Staphylococcus aureus can grow in a variety of foods and can produce a heat-resistant poison that causes skin infections, digestive disasters, and sometimes death.  Because the toxin is difficult to destroy, you must prevent it from forming.  This one is both sneaky and common.

Have a super holiday.