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    Health Organization Petitions USDA to Ensure 'Feces-Free' Meat or Issue Biohazard Labels

    PCRM, a national health organization dedicated to promoting preventive medicine and higher standards in medical research, education, and practice, on Wednesday filed a petition calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to protect consumers against feces-contaminated poultry and meat. The petition coincides with PCRM's release of a survey that shows that 84 percent of adults have no idea that the primary source of foodborne pathogens on poultry and meat is animal feces.

    PCRM, a national health organization dedicated to promoting preventive medicine and higher standards in medical research, education, and practice, on Wednesday filed a petition calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to protect consumers against feces-contaminated poultry and meat. The petition coincides with PCRM's release of a survey that shows that 84 percent of adults have no idea that the primary source of foodborne pathogens on poultry and meat is animal feces.

    PCRM's petition asks the government to declare feces an adulterant -- an action that would greatly strengthen federal meat safety regulations. PCRM also proposes that until the government can guarantee Americans feces-free food, all poultry and meat products should carry a biohazard label. Such a procedure is similar to how medical waste is treated.

    PRCM's survey found that 84 percent of adults have no idea that the primary source of salmonella, campylobacter, E. coli, and other foodborne pathogens on poultry and
    meat is animal feces. The survey of 1,000 men and women was completed during the period of July 26-29, 2001, by Opinion Research Corporation International on behalf of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). Foodborne illnesses are at epidemic levels in the United States; the Centers for Disease Control estimate there are at least 76 million cases each year, usually from consumption of animal products.

    "Our findings show the vast majority of Americans do not understand there are feces on meat and poultry," says PCRM staff attorney Mindy Kursban. "In fact, there's a major disconnect in the public consciousness between the foodborne illnesses that sicken so many of us and their originating cause -- animal excrement."

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