October 14, 2013

Experts Refute Charge of More Antibiotic-Resistant E. coli in Kosher Poultry

Albany, NY… It seems that almost overnight the healthfulness of the kosher chicken was brought into question. In fact, up until the day of the release of a new study which charged that kosher chicken had more antibiotic-resistant E. coli, most experts credited the kosher chicken for being healthier than non-kosher chicken, thanks to the salting and soaking procedure. But in a recent editorial, Timothy D. Lytton and Joe M. Regenstein, Ph.D. refuted the study’s conclusions. Lytton is a professor of law at Albany Law School while Regenstein is a professor of food science in Cornell University’s Department of Food Science.

The two academicians laced into the study that they claimed “belies the historical roots of kosher as a means to ensure food safety.”The study concludes that the higher prevalence of E. coli in kosher chicken suggests that the use of antibiotics in the kosher production chain “may be more intensive” than in conventional production, but that it “is not immediately obvious where in the kosher chicken production process antibiotic use might be more prevalent, or where exposure to antibiotic-resistant organisms is more likely.”Although this study raises important questions about food safety that merit further investigation, the authors say, it does little to advance understanding about kosher poultry production or kosher certification.
Lytton and Regenstein add: “There is no reason to believe that antibiotic use is more intensive or exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria more likely in the production of chickens for the kosher market. Moreover, most kosher poultry processors purchase chickens on the open market. While a few processors have custom strains raised by contract growers, the largest of these processors specifically indicates that their birds are raised without antibiotics.