Chicken (file)
Chicken (file) Thinkstock

According to new research, nearly all fresh poultry in Israel is contaminated by an intestinal bacteria that is dangerous to humans.

The research by Israel's Egg and Poultry Board has yet to be officially presented to the public, but some of the frightening statistics raised on Monday at an internal meeting of the Agricultural Ministry's veterinary services were published by The Marker on Wednesday.

The findings show that more than 93% of the chicken flocks in Israel are contaminated with the Campylobacter bacteria. Dr. Anat Weissman of the Egg and Poultry Board presented the findings, which are based on wide research that has been ongoing for a year.

It is estimated that the danger is principally posed by fresh chicken, and not frozen chicken, given that the bacteria has trouble surviving low temperatures.

However, nearly all of the consumption in Israel is of fresh chicken, and marketing chains have reported that more than 90% of the chicken that is purchased is fresh, with just under 10% being frozen.

Campylobacter is known as a prominent cause of serious bowel infections among humans. A majority of those who become sick due to the bacteria develop stomach pains and diarrhea that continues several days, but it also is liable to cause additional serious infections in the digestive tract for children.

The bacteria is currently the leading cause of stomach illnesses in Israel, even outpacing Salmonella.

In 2013, two children aged four and five were hospitalized at Schneider Children's Hospital in Petah Tikva after catching the bacteria, and as a result they suffered a syndrome causing partial paralysis, reports The Marker.

Campylobacter is transmitted through insufficiently cooked food. While the bacteria dies when the chicken is cooked or baked, it primarily is transferred through contamination of the surroundings during the preparation of the chicken.

For example, utensils can get infected by it during preparation in the kitchen, whether by coming in contact with water sprayed while washing the chicken in the sink, or by not properly disinfecting surfaces used in the preparation, and the bacteria likewise can spread by touching other food before washing one's hands.

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