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Who's Watching the Hen House

Follow-up to KosherBuzz Antibiotic Resistant Chicken

Hens

This editorial is co-authored by Timothy D. Lytton   a professor of law at Albany Law School. and Joe M. Regenstein, Ph.D,  professor of food science in Cornell University’s Department of Food Science. It discusses the recent findings of  high levels of antibiotic resistant  e-coli in kosher chickens.

A more likely explanation for the elevated E. coli levels lies in feather removal. The most efficient and common way to remove chicken feathers is to soak the carcass in scalding water, which makes the feathers easier to pluck mechanically. Kosher restrictions do not allow for any form of cooking a chicken — which includes immersion in scalding water — until after the meat has been soaked and salted to remove the blood. As a result, kosher production requires chickens to be dry plucked or soaked in very cold water to firm up the flesh so that it survives an automatic plucking process. Immersion in scalding water prior to plucking of non-kosher poultry production reduces microbial load, by either washing microbes away or by killing them, which might account for differences between kosher and other production methods. This merits further investigation.

Drs. Lytton and Regenstein both agree that recent findings  may raise food safety concerns. However, the exact implications of this research with respect to both kosher and non-kosher poultry merits further research, and it must be based on a better understanding of kosher poultry production and regulation.

Read their entire editorial.

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