A recent study by vegetarian-advocate group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine claims that in a recent test of packaged raw chicken products bought at grocery stores across the country, 48 percent of the 120 packages contained E. coli bacteria.

“Most consumers do not realize that feces are in the chicken products they purchase,” said Dr. Neal D. Barnard, president of the group. “Food labels discuss contamination as if it is simply the presence of bacteria, but people need to know that it means much more than that.”

Critics of the test have pointed out that the test itself was small (120 packages bought in 10 U.S. cities), and that the E. coli found in the chicken was not a kind that would threaten public health, reports the New York Times.

The National Chicken Council said the Physicians Committee’s test was “disingenuous,” given that it identified only 57 questionable samples out of about 42 million pounds of ready-to-cook chicken products in grocery stores every day.

“These findings, not a ‘peer-reviewed’ study, are another misleading attempt by a pseudo-medical group to scare consumers in hopes of advancing their goal of a vegan society,” said Dr. Ashley Peterson, vice president of science and technology at the National Chicken Council.

Dirk Fillpot, of the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the Department of Agriculture, said the study’s findings were not supported by any science or facts. “It assumes that the presence of generic E. coli could only come from contact with feces, when that is simply not the case,” he said.

Source: New York Times