Cook Poultry Thoroughly to Avoid Urinary Tract Infections?

Cook Poultry Thoroughly to Avoid Urinary Tract Infections?
General Health
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Eating under-cooked poultry or meat of any kind can give you food poisoning, but that’s not all! Researchers also found some strains of E. coli bacteria known to cause urinary tract infections (UTIs) lurking in samples of raw poultry and other meats. [1]

Study co-author Dr. Cindy Friedman, of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases, said the findings “suggest that there might be a food-borne source of urinary tract infection.” [1]

In a study presented at IDWeek 2017, an infectious diseases conference, Friedman and colleagues analyzed samples of meat from grocery stores in California as urine samples from patients with UTIs, to look for the presence of E. coli.

There are many strains of E. coli bacteria, and six are known to cause UTIs . The scientists detected three of those strains in the tested meat samples, most of which were poultry products.

About 80% of UTIs are caused by E. coli bacteria, but study co-author Dr. Reina Yamaji, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health, said it’s not clear where exactly the harmful pathogens come from. Past studies also suggest that UTI-causing E. coli bacteria could come from food – particularly poultry.

Of the more than 200 meat samples the researchers collected, 38% were found to be contaminated with E. coli. Of the different types of meat, ground turkey was the most contaminated, with 73% of the products testing positive for the bacteria. In addition, 43% of chicken breast samples, 18% of ground beef samples, and 15% of pork chops tested positive for E. coli.

Overall, nearly one-fourth of the poultry products tested positive for the same strains of E. coli found in the more than 1,000 patients’ urine samples.

Study author Dr. Lee Riley, a professor of infectious disease at Berkeley’s School of Public Health, said:

“When we compared the fingerprints of the E. coli from the poultry and the human UTI cases, we found there’s an overlap of some genotypes. We need to somehow explain why UTI cases have the same E. coli we find in poultry.” [2]

Researchers aren’t certain how E. coli gets transferred from meat to humans, but they hypothesize that people are infected when they eat under-cooked meat, or they don’t follow the appropriate guidelines for handling meat.

Dr. Aaron Glatt, who wasn’t involved in the study, is chairman of the Department of Medicine at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, NY. He recommends that people who are prone to recurrent UTIs practice proper hand hygiene and safe food preparation. This includes:

  • Washing cutting boards and knives used to slice raw meat
  • Using different utensils to cut meat and chop vegetables
  • Cooking poultry to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit [2]

The study does not prove that eating under-cooked meat and poultry causes UTIs, and the results are considered preliminary until they are published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Additional Sources:

[1] Live Science

[2] HealthDay