Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The deadly thing that isn't.

Chickens are not clean creatures. If you visit a pig farm you'll think it smells pretty bad. If you visit a chicken farm you'll long for the gentle scents of the pig farm. Chickens, in short, stink.

Chickens, like most birds, carry a bacterium called Campylobacter in their guts. It doesn't bother them but it makes us pretty sick. It's in bird crap everywhere and it's in the chickens you buy for roasting.

It doesn't matter. Cook it properly and wash your hands and work surfaces after handling the raw meat, and it's dead. No problem at all. I've never experienced a Campylobacter infection despite eating chicken in many forms and despite working with the actual bacterium and deliberately growing lots of it. It's easy to kill.

Ah, but the sight of government is shorter even than the average IQ of parliament. You buy the chicken from the supermarket, therefore it's the supermarket that has to deal with the problem.

The morons of the FSA cannot grasp that Campylobacter is a natural part of chicken gut microflora and has been for a very, very long time. That's why Granny cooks chicken until the skin shatters when you stick a fork in it. Heat kills it. Ah, but we are all stupid, you see...

The concern is not limited to eating under-cooked chicken. When you bring it into your kitchen, you may be cross-contaminating your hands and transferring campylobacter to salads and fresh produce.'

Well, Granny and her ancestors managed perfectly well, using complex arcane rituals such as cooking it properly, washing their hands and washing down preparation surfaces. If people don't want to bother with all that, well, Darwinian selection beckons and that's natural and for the good of the species. Let the dopes die.

Oh, but how can we rid ourselves of this easily solved problem?

Other countries, notably New Zealand, have reduced campylobacter contamination by disinfecting chicken meat with chlorine washes before it reaches the shops but this method is banned in the EU.

Campylobacter is eradicated by heat. Chlorine is not. I know which I'd rather have on the raw chicken, thanks. Chlorine washes? What the hell?

The British Retail Consortium said: 'This is a complex issue. The biology of campylobacter is not yet fully understood and, so far, there is no proven single solution.'

Sigh. The biology of Campylobacter is understood well enough for now, thanks. We know how it infects, we can grow it, we know how to prevent infection and it's easy. Just cook it like Granny did, and clean like Granny did, and you'll never catch it. People are just too damn lazy and frankly, they deserve all they get.

As for 'single solution', there is no solution at all at present. I heard from a poultry industry guy that the first person to find a way to eradicate Campylobacter from poultry will make enough money to retire a week later.

Am I looking for a way? Damn right I am!

In the meantime, just make extensive use of soap and cook that chicken until it screams for mercy.

Oh, and be wary of any pre-cooked meat. The people preparing it might be lazy too.


Stewart Cowan said...

My aunt and uncle had a chicken farm when I was growing up. I was surprised how smelly it was.

Frankly, there are far worse things in chicken than Campylobacter. Like growth hormones and antibiotics. And who knows what they've been fed on?

Any idea if Chlorine lowers the IQ like fluoride compounds are alleged to do?

JuliaM said...

"If people don't want to bother with all that, well, Darwinian selection beckons and that's natural and for the good of the species. Let the dopes die."

Maybe that's why we are in the state we're in. We've forgotten that some people are too stupid to live...

Worse, not only are we ensuring that they live, we're electing them to positions of power!

watching said...

Why bother with chicken at all if its deadly enough need washing in chlorine?
Soylent green is beginning to look a reasonable solution to all these food scares.

On a slight aside.
This bullshit is yet one more reason to exit the EU today. I have been unable to come up with a single reason to stay in the Belgian controlled superstate can you?

HeartAttackSurvivor said...

@JuliaM: "...not only are we ensuring that they live, we're electing them to positions of power!".

Worse than that - hordes more of them are allowed to vote (or at least place their X where directed).

Beware of Geeks bearing GIFs said...

I had Campylobacter. Lost 2 stone in 2 weeks with blood pouring from my arse and days away from hospital. However, the thought of visiting a hospital double-shocked the immune system into action again and I started to recover.


However, it was traced as you correctly identified as staff handling raw chicken in the kitchen and then using their contaminated hands to put ice into drinks instead of tongs.

How do we know? Because the Chinese restaurant had been observed and half the restauranters went down with Campylobacter.

As in typical UK tradition, the restaurant was closed down and the guy fined and banned... and then re-opened under his brother-in-law's name a few months later.

As a result of this, I use restaurants sparingly, although this happened 20 years ago.

But once again, I used the words "legislating for lowest common denominator" - this is what they're trying to do and it will fail or be to costly.

Chlorinated chicken? FFS...

They should have "stupid people food". I dunno, deep fry it all. And perhaps add lots of salt to give it flavour. And cover it in breadcrumbs. And serve it with chlorinated water and sugar with a carbonic acid buffer to keep the bugs at bay.

It may catch on.

Talking of stupid...

Uncle Marvo said...

I'll see your Campylobacter and raise you a nasty does of Staphylococcus Aureus, from fresh Mange Tout and Baby Sweet Corn, Tesco, 2007, origin Zimbabwe.

Nearest I ever came to death.

I think the government should ban vegetables.

Leg-iron said...

We have a vegetarian in charge of farming, remember.

So there'll be continuous 'meat is bad for you' stories and no mention of how much handling vegetables get when they are transported halfway across the world. Uncle Marvo's experience isn't going to make the news but Beware of Geeks' story would.

A lot of vegetables seem to be imported. Even ones it's easy to grow here.

Those greens aren't very Green after all.

Frank Davis said...

If nicotine kills campylobacteria, we could fix the whole problem by getting chickens to smoke.

bring back Edwina said...

Every time I have a soft boiled egg with toast soldiers I spend the day with the squirts.
I've tried different eggs and different supermarkets with the same effect.
I avoid soft egg yolks now as they're obviously no longer safe for me to eat.
Do you know if anything has changed with eggs leg iron ? Hygeine standards or more imported eggs maybe ?
It's just over the last year. Decades of eating them with no previous problems.

Anonymous said...

Feed the chickens a probiotic bacteria, honestly.

It works but costs money and the industrial production of chickens shave ingredients in the feed to save a sliver of a fraction of a penny, per bird because they are producing millions of them.

A propos the above honestly bit, I have been involved in trials with the same but although they raised the to feed ratio and eliminated Salmonella and Campylobacter the producer had an absolute new ingredient cost permittable per chicken which we exceded.

Maybe they wanted us to give us the thing free.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, it was a US producer and not EU.

The EU is a fuckland of regulation and backhanders to get licensed; not for the buccaneering entrepreneur to afford.

Anonymous said...

I'm oi=n a roll just now but only because I know my way around this one.

My ex-wife has maybe a World record of having a Campylobacter infection despite being a vegetarian and never having had chicken in the house for at least 6 weeks before her illness.

How did she get it?

We lived then in Freuchie which suffered one of the very few major faecal contamination of the public drinking water supply that the Western World has suffered. Think Zermatt in Switzerland in the 60's, somewhere in Ireland and California and maybe one or two others.

The water from the discharge point of the local village sewage works was sucked in by a vegetable processing plant next door, Kettle Produce, and because of a fuck up in their piping system, was back pressured up into the village water supply. The whole village, over 1000 people were stricken and all youngies had to have hepatitis vaccinations.

One child suffered renal failure

As I look back on it I sometimes think that my ex was not harmed enough!

I'll never go to heaven , if it exists.

Leg-iron said...

Frank - chickens with nicotine patches? At least that would be a use for the things.

Leg-iron said...

Bugger - I've done some work with probiotics and as you say, they work but at too high a cost for the farming industry. All the industry, not just chickens.

People want cheap chicken, supermarkets limit what they're willing to pay per bird and the farms have to keep feed prices right down to make any profit at all. It's about the only thing the farms have any control over - the rest is regulated for them.

Cheap chicken means higher risk, but only if it's not properly handled and cooked.

I'm working on a prebiotic that could also wipe out Campylobacter but again - the cost means that poultry farmers can't afford it. Unless it can be made cheaper, which is maybe possible.

Leg-iron said...

Bring back Edwina - I'm not aware of any changes to eggs but my main focus is pigs. It's possible there might have been some dietary changes affecting yolk composition but I don't know.

There's no new bacterial risk in eggs. They still contain occasional Salmonellas but that's killed by cooking. Even soft boiled, if the white is solid then it's a safe bet the yolk reached enough of a temperature to kill off the nasties (or at least reduce them to low enough numbers not to matter).

I might be able to find out about the diets in a few days.

Anonymous said...

If it is a prebiotic you want at a low cost the best route to go is a polyfructose like inulin. In which case chicory is one possibility but it still needs a constant feed of a seed probiotic to work.

We put the probiotic in the water and it worked but that is not, last time I looked, permitted in Europe because they wrote the relevant laws only terms of feed and having realised it towards the end of the process inserted a clause banning all water additives to save themselves more work.

Now it is or was all cast in concrete and cannot easily be undone unless you have a spare ten or twenty millions and a lifetime time to wait for them to consider and test it.

Guess who tests it?

Yes the same academic cunts who pull the strings behind the scenes to get everything forbidden, even coon sense things, unless it tested and approved. "Scientific Sclerotis is Us" should be their motto.

L I, stick to living off the cunts and not trying to use your intelligence to advance science. That is just not permitted.

Anonymous said...

Our posts crossed re pigs.

I had a product in Denmark which worked beautifully but the farmers just kept dropping the daily dosage rate until it didn't work. The latent time for the point of no return until the manifestation of that in sick pigs was between two and three weeks then the bastards telephoned me to say my product wasn't working any more!

Farmers don't pay and mostly are less intelligent than the pigs they rear.

Farmers don't want to pay for anything and they infrequently try to achieve that aim.

I stopped working in the faring sector 3 years ago.

paulo said...

I'm not a chemist so I'll leave the science to you guys but I know a bit about food.

Buy seasonal and local.
Avoid imports wherever possible. Read Felicity Lawrence's books to cure you from buying out of season Spanish fruit and veg and the like -Kenyan beans.

Buy meat from reputable butchers and be sure it's British - not the dodgy foreign imports butchered over here and then flagged as British (frigging EU)in the supermarkets.

Always support British farmers. Blair and Brown "no more boom and bust" are confident we can always buy food on the international markets and so have done their damnest to kill off our farmers. A food shortage(s)cannot be far away.

Now wouldn't that just suit the brown gorgon?


Leg-iron said...

Bugger - it needs to be added by a feed producer. Leave it to farmers and they'll mix the cheapest options.

The stuff is inulin related but without the gas production of inulin (commercial stuff so can't go into much detail) and works in humans too.

Approval for human use is worse than approval for animal use but the trick is to avoid making definite claims and leak some rumours.

The pig feed stuff will only go ahead if it can completely replace feed antibiotics and cost the same as or less than those antibiotics. Supermarket pressure for meat they can label 'no antibiotic feeding' will do the rest.

It's the cost that has to be dealt with.

Leg-iron said...

Paulo - we have farm shops and butchers shops here, although one butcher (and the only fishmonger) has succumbed to supermarket pricing.

Food from small shops is better. Especially small bakers who don't produce stuff with a week of shelf life by filling it with chemicals.

These days, though the difference in price can make it hard to persuade people that they'll enjoy the food more if it comes without added preservatives.

Anonymous said...

Leg Iron

I was dealing with liquid feed, over 60% of Danish Pigs are on it.

The use of bacteria incorporated into compounded feed is a nightmare,

The logarithmic death of bacteria in this case is truly frightening.

It starts in the bacteria factory and by the time the compounder there can be up to 3 log deaths.

Pass it through the extruder with steam injection and expect another 2 or 3 log deaths. Storage transportation etc drops maybe 2 more logs.

6-8 log deaths from the original stock plus dodgy lab testing and standards make the who business a nightmare

The cost per strain is over €1 for tests and the permission is very specific on bacteria type, addition rate and age of animal and even number of weeks permitted.

Change the strain, not type just the strain definition and you have to start all over again.

All bacteria manufacturers have bailed out of direct market intervention. No body, as far as I know, have taken the tests into fish where there could be a very big market because of the costs and perceived returns.

However in China and Vietnam they are using it by the tonne.

Bureaucracy run amok.

I really wish you luck.

Alan said...

go to a local farm. The one I favour the chickens are so free range you have to be careful not to run over them on the way in. They taste great and I'm not worried about eating them raw, they pick up enough mixed bacteria through eating naturally to keep the salmonella etc down.

Anonymous said...

Late and last post as the thread has worn out.

Antibiotics are illegal in animal feed in the EU.

Denmark voluntarily adopted this no prophylactic addition code for pigs several years before the EU mandated it because of pressure from Japan which, money wise, is Denmark's biggest export market.

The intensive rearing of the pigs meant that diseases in the pigs are much ore economically significant and the consequential theraputic use of antibiotics surpassed the old prophylactic one.

That is where I became involve, in trying to raise the life quality of the sows and piglets. In particular natural disease resistance, extension of the sow's economic life and increasing the % of piglets who survive to maturity. All these criteria were satisfied but the farmers do not recognise that a new born pig has any value so to loose two or four at birth or very soon after has no economic value to them. Trials on extending the sows useful life fro 2 years max to three or four were scuppered by the farmers' tinkering with dosage rate and frequency.

They still buy the product which I sold on but only as a theraputic treatment for the herds during a crisis.

As I said, the pigs are ore intelligent than the farmers.

If you want any more info, just ask and no charge.

English Pensioner said...

Doesn't worry me, I can't stand chicken. The only way it has any taste is if it is covered with sauce or spices. Give me roast beef any day and I'll take the risk of BSE!

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