Woman Dies From Eating Undercooked Chicken on Family Vacation

A recent article in Newsweek told the story of a 37-year-old mother and amateur triathlete who died from foodborne illness on a family vacation after eating just a few bites of undercooked chicken.

Natalie Rawnsley was visiting the Greek island of Corfu with her husband and two children. The family had visited a hotel restaurant buffet, where she realized a piece of chicken she’d taken was bloody. She replaced it with a second piece that she assumed was safe to eat.

Just a few hours later, Rawnsley became very ill. The healthy mother had a high fever and was vomiting violently. Within 36 hours, her condition dramatically worsened. She tragically passed away after clots formed in blood vessels throughout her body. Doctors believe the illness was due to E. coli bacteria in the undercooked chicken.

From salmonella to E. coli, dangerous pathogens lurk in nearly all meat. In fact, around 25 percent of cut-up chicken meat and about 50 percent of ground chicken sold in stores is contaminated with salmonella.

The USDA routinely tests chicken slaughterhouses for salmonella and rates them from “best to “worst. Slaughterhouses with the best ratings are those where less than 5 percent of the chickens slaughtered are infected with salmonella. What’s more, in the past year alone, one out of six chicken slaughter plants exceeded the maximum allowable salmonella contamination rates set by the USDA.

But salmonella isn’t just found in chicken. According to the FDA, seafood imports from China—around 27 percent of the seafood consumed by Americans—are frequently contaminated. Additionally, salmonella cases involving pork and beef are on the rise. In fact, overall salmonella infection rates have risen 44 percent in just the past decade.

In addition to salmonella and E. coli, quite a few other harmful bacteria and viruses are commonly found in meat, including vibrio, listeria, shigella, and campylobacter. A recent analysis found that nearly 60 percent of U.K.-produced chickens tested positive for campylobacter.

But why does meat contain potentially deadly bacteria and viruses? One reason is that it’s covered in fecal matter. The USDA reported that 90 percent of defects discovered in chicken carcasses at slaughter plants involved “visible fecal contamination that was missed by company employees.” And a recent report in the Netherlands found that instances of fecal matter on meat and equipment at slaughterhouses had doubled over the past year.

Meat contains fecal matter because factory farms are filthy and crowded with animals who are often sick and covered in waste.

Furthermore, animals raised and killed for food are subjected to unthinkable cruelties: tiny, filthy cages; horrific mutilations; and violent slaughter.

To make matters worse, no federal law protects animals during their lives at factory farms. And the law that’s supposed to protect animals at the slaughterhouse, the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, doesn’t extend to birds, leaving them with virtually no protection from abuse.

Fortunately, you can protect your family and yourself from potentially deadly foodborne illnesses simply by choosing a healthy and compassionate vegan diet.

Click here to get started, and click here for our Pinterest page with hundreds of vegan recipes!