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Kosher chicken much safer

An enquiring mind led to a plucky US teenager discovering that kosher chicken is half as likely to carry dangerous E.coli virus

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Wacky World

ANT KATZ

17-year-old Jack Millman and his mother rode around metropolitan New York and bought up vast quantities of raw chicken. But Millman and his mom, Ann Marks, didn’t cook the poultry. They put it on ice and shipped it overnight to a lab in Arizona, which tested it for antibiotic-resistant strains of the E. coli bacteria.

 The Philadelphia-based JEWISH EXPONENT published the amazing story on Tuesday about how and why this mother and son team became involved in their unique experiment.

The study, which included 213 samples of raw chicken purchased at 15 locations in the New York area, found that kosher chicken has nearly twice the frequency of antibiotic-resistant strains as non-kosher. The results were first published in the journal F1000 Research in July.

Kosher chicken carries half the risk

The findings are perplexing. Kosher laws contain no requirements about how chickens are raised, and the only difference between kosher and conventional poultry is in the slaughtering and de-feathering.

Lance Price, a microbiologist with Translation Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix who helped design the study, suggested that kosher companies may be sourcing from producers or hatcheries that use more antibiotics.

But Joe Regenstein, a food scientist at Cornell University, and Timothy Lytton, the author of a recently published book on the kosher food industry, dispute that notion.

Writing recently in Food Safety News, Regenstein and Lytton say a more likely explanation lies in the kosher method of feather removal.
5-Kosher Chicken logo small
Most poultry is placed in scalding water before plucking, but kosher poultry is dry plucked or soaked in very cold water due to restrictions prohibiting any form of cooking before the meat has been soaked and salted.

“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,” Regenstein and Lytton wrote.

His interest stems from Israeli holiday

Millman, 17, who does not keep kosher, told JTA in an interview between classes at the prestigious Horace Mann School that he was “very surprised” by the findings.  The Manhattan resident first became interested in kosher issues a few years ago during a family trip to Israel.

“While we were there, we were eating a lot of kosher food, and I was interested in whether kosher is healthier,” he said.

Interested in exploring the question, Millman approached his uncle, Bruce Hungate, a biology professor at Northern Arizona University. Hungate, the director of the university’s Centre for Ecosystem, Science and Society, connected him to Price.

Together they designed an experiment to test 10 brands of chicken in each of four categories. Millman did not perform the actual lab tests, but he collected the samples, visited the lab and took the lead in writing up the results.

He also presented the findings at the American Society for Microbiology conference in Denver this year.

Millman and the professional scientists with whom he partnered acknowledge that the study, with its relatively small sample size, is not intended to offer the final word on the topic.

 “This was big enough for a pilot study, and the finding was dramatic and consistent enough to indicate a problem,” Price told JTA. “Of course there’s a need to follow up with a larger study and larger sample.”

“I learned the importance of asking good questions”

Price said that because the drugs used by companies to raise chickens are “considered a trade secret” in the United States, provided they use FDA-approved antibiotics, it is difficult for researchers to track. He noted that 13.6-million kg of antibiotics are used each year in meat production, compared to just 3.5-million used for human medical purposes.

Millman said he isn’t sure whether more research with raw chickens is in his future, though he remains concerned about the overuse of antibiotics in meat production and its implications for consumer health and the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria.

Having varied interests, the high school senior has yet to decide whether he will major in the sciences in college.

 “I guess the most important skill that I learned is the importance of asking good questions and being willing to follow where your curiosity takes you,” Millman said.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Max Mosselson

    Nov 15, 2013 at 4:25 am

    ‘Your penchant to positively spin everything Jewish generally and avoid anything controversial in  our community may have gone too far in this article. In fact it borders on a lie as the whole tenor and import of the study shows that kosher chicken in fact contains 2x the amount of antibiotic RESISTANT strains of e- coli which in as far a I understand it makes it more likely that one may get ill from eating it than the non kosher equivalent. As in most things accuracy in the news is a necessity not an option. ‘

  2. Ant Katz

    Nov 18, 2013 at 8:43 am

    ‘Shalom Max, thank you for sharing your opinion – something this website is built around encouraging. Your scientific observation may have validity, which we shall look into. I am not sure if your reference to \”you\” in this case is directed at the website (which is only days old); or to myself as a career-journo. But I can assure you that, in either event, your assertion that a \”penchant to positively spin everything Jewish generally and avoid anything controversial in our community\” is quite incorrect in either event.

    With this in mind, I would encourage, nay, challenge you to submit anything you feel should be said and isn’t – either directly to me at online.editor@sajr.co.za or to the editor in chief at Geoff@sajewishreport.co.za – and put us to the test. The shared belief of the editorial staff and the board of directors is that all views should be heard – as long as they are legal, decent, and neither espouse the destruction of Israel or of Jewish souls.’

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Wacky World

New York Times rebuked

Paper’s public editor rebukes The New York Times reporter for asking PhD candidate David McCleary, pic. ‘demeaning’ questions as he didn’t look Jewish

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ANT KATZ

A reporter for the New York Times came under fire for asking a Jewish Ph.D. candidate “insulting and demeaning” questions for an article on the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement on college campuses across the US.

The questions that were asked of University of California, Berkeley candidate David McCleary, included whether he “looked Jewish” given his apparently non-Jewish sounding last name and whether he had had a barmitzvah.

NYT rebuked


RIGHT: The New York Times Editor weighs in on ‘demeaning’ questions to Jewish PhD student.


McCleary promptly wrote to the office of the New York Times’ public editor, whose job it is to respond to questions of the newspaper’s integrity.

He said he was “displeased” that his remarks were withheld from the ultimate publication of the story and that no Jewish student who supports the BDS movement on campuses was quoted.

McCleary’s complaint to the Times’ public editor, Margaret Sullivan, who in the end agreed that such questioning was “unprofessional and unacceptable,” underlined the brouhaha around an article published by the newspaper last Saturday about the BDS movement and its consequences on college campuses.

Responding to Sullivan’s admission, McCleary told the Algemeiner: “While the Jewish litmus test I received was offensive, it isn’t nearly as offensive as the New York Times ignoring my voice and thousands like me who are Jewish students in favour of BDS for Israel.”

Piece didn’t provide evidence 

Critics of the story have argued that the piece itself did not provide much evidence to back the complaint of its headline, which states that the BDS issue “drives a wedge” between Jews and minority groups on campus.

“To make this into a ‘Minority vs Jewish’ question, without supplying evidence, is to distort the issue,” said David Nasaw, the Arthur M Schlesinger Junior professor of history at Graduate Centre, City University of New York.

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Wacky World

Unique baby names @ just $31k

Expectant parents who are struggling to find a unique name for their baby are in luck. JTA reports this Swiss company will do it for you, for just $31,000!

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ANT KATZ

Expectant parents, if you’re paging through baby name pages looking for a unique name to no avail (have you checked ours yet?), you’re in luck. Erfolgswelle – a Swiss firm that specialises in naming babies – will happily volunteer its 32 person staff to spend 100 hours searching for unique, copyright-free names for your child.

All for the tune of $31,000, because who needs a college fund really? Squares, that’s who, and you’ll be damned if your kid becomes anything less than the uniquely-shaped polygon he or she was born to be.

But, writes Suzanne Samin on JTA’s KVELLER, “in all seriousness, I totally get wanting a special name for your kid. I just don’t get spending an arm and leg for it by contracting out a service like this one. But, to each his or her own, and if you’re really into the idea of hiring out a monolith to name your child, they’re offering to reimburse the full charge for the first couple to report their new baby name to the media within two weeks of receiving it.”

WIZOChristianZionistspic1
How cute is this? Not $31,000 – that’s for sure!

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Wacky World

Darth Zeder & a wonky knee

Special needs self-styled “passenger from hell” on ElAl couldn’t match his needs with his budget.

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STAFF REPORTER

Will I fly ElAl again next time? Hell yeh! Not only were they great at what they do, they and came through with ‘flying’ colours!

In a recent BLOG BY ANT KATZ, SAJR Online’s editor asks: “What is it with SA Jewry and ElAl?” Ant says that “SA Jewry fall into the pro- or anti-ElAl camp,” and then proceeds to give an account of his own experience of flying with the airline last month.

In the blog entitled: “Facts, fun and fallacies about ElAl,” Katz says that it was “the hapstance of timing” that had resulted in his flying on the Airline. “As it happened, on the week I was travelling, ElAl offered the lowest price, most suitable times for me, and, what’s more, the only non-stop route which was important as embarking and disembarking was going to be difficult for me at the time.

Passenger from hell

“You see,” says Ant Katz, “on this trip, I was the customer from hell! I was a special-needs passenger who could not match his needs with his budget. I needed wheelchair assistance to board and disembark, a seat with extra legroom and a 110 or 220v electric plug” at his seat.

“Suffice it to say, in a very Jewish and/or Israeli way, one way or another, my needs were met completely, against ElAl policies and despite all the naysayers” in the community, blogs Ant. “Here’s the thing… the one simple fact: In so many ways, ElAl was incredible.”

He proceeds to share his tale about ElAl policies being the most stringent he has ever encountered, and accuses the ‘serial complainers’ in the community of having “groomed” him to expect otherwise.

As it turned out, ElAl moved heaven and earth to accommodate him – even sending a technical team to modify a plane close to midnight at Ben Gurion airport. 

READ THE FULL BLOG

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