It's a safe bet that any ground turkey you buy at the supermarket is laden with potentially dangerous bacteria, says Consumer Reports. Its first report on turkey meat gets off to a happy start by noting that "more than half of the packages of raw ground meat and patties tested positive for fecal bacteria." The magazine tested for five organisms—enterococcus, E. coli, staphylococcus aureus, salmonella, and campylobacter—and at least one showed up in 90% of the 257 samples, reports CBS News. CR says most of the contaminants it found were resistant to common antibiotics and blamed the overuse of drugs in feedlots. Products labeled "organic" or "no antibiotics" fared much better in this area, and the magazine encouraged their use.
The turkey-meat industry is lashing back at what it calls a "misleading" and too-small study. Of the contaminants found, it writes, "the two most prevalent, enterococcus and generic E.coli, are not considered sources of foodborne illness." It also notes that only 5% of the samples tested positive for salmonella, adding: "This is borne out by more extensive government testing, which finds almost 90% of all ground turkey and 97% of whole turkeys are salmonella-free." At the Wall Street Journal, Tom Gara isn't exactly bowled over by that argument. "You know it’s a tough news day when an industry association boasts its product is almost 90% salmonella-free." (Read more turkey stories.)