Kosher, beyond its obvious religious significance, also stands for healthy and safe in consumers’ minds. Now, a new study has made the unsettling discovery that kosher chicken may be harbouring more pathogenic bacteria than conventionally reared and slaughtered birds, not less. This is not the first time that the safety of kosher food has been called into question. The kosher industry needs to tackle this before its reputation ends up in tatters.
Kosher Comes out Top – But Not in a Good Way
In October 2013, F1000Resarch published a study carried out jointly by four institutions, including the Northern Arizona University, which assessed the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant E coli in retail chicken. The aim was to compare the frequency of these bacteria in four types of chicken - conventional, organic, raised without antibiotics (RWA) and kosher. For this purpose, 213 samples of raw chicken sold in the New York City metropolitan area were collected and analysed.
The results were surprising. Organic chicken meat had the same incidence of antibiotic-resistant E coli as conventionally raised chicken. RWA chicken meat was only slightly less affected, while kosher emerged with nearly double the frequency compared with conventional. The researchers had no plausible rationale to explain these baffling results.