In a swift rebuttal to a Consumer Reports expose that we covered yesterday stating that 90 percent of ground turkey had one or more of the five bacteria for which were tested and that organic and no-antibiotic ground turkey still had antibiotic-resistant bacteria the National Turkey Federation came out swinging.

The NTF called the Consumer Reports findings alarmist and based solely on an extremely small sampling.

"Consumer Reports had the opportunity to foster a serious, thoughtful discussion about food safety, but instead it chose to sensationalize findings and mislead people," said Joel Brandenberger, NTF president.

They point out that the most prevalent bacteria found, Enterococcus and E. coli, are not considered major sources of foodborne illness and that the occurrence of harmful Campylobacter and Salmonella that cause illness was negligible.

"This is borne out by more extensive government testing, which finds almost 90 percent of all ground turkey and 97 percent of whole turkeys are Salmonella-free," NTF said in a statement. "While the turkey industry strives to control all bacteria on its products, it focuses primarily on those bacteria that present the greatest threat to human health."

The NTF also cites that ciprofloxacin, the antibiotic used to test antibiotic resistance in the Consumer Reports findings, has not been used in poultry in over eight years and the resistance is not likely due to usage in farm animals.

The rebuttal went on to say that bacteria found on the meat were also found everywhere in environment. "Enterococcus and generic E. coli are everywhere, and there is more than one way they can wind up on food animals. In fact, it's so common in the environment, studies have shown that generic E. coli and MRSA can even be found on about 20 percent of computer keyboards." said Lisa Picard, NTF vice president of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs.

Betsy Booren, chief scientist of the American Meat Institute Foundation, said the Consumer Reports findings were actually a positive thing: none of the 257 samples tested positive for Campylobacter and only five percent tested positive for Salmonella, which is one-tenth the regulatory limit of 49 percent.

"While it is the industry's goal to eliminate bacteria that can cause foodborne disease, there is simply no way to destroy all bacteria on all raw products. Consumers should be reassured that all bacteria, whether antibiotic-resistant or not, are destroyed by thorough cooking."