Credit Katie Brady / Flickr (Creative Commons License)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has found about half of ground chicken is contaminated with salmonella, and the agency is proposing new standards to reduce the bacteria by 30 percent.

The new rule would mean more testing, which John-Mark Hack says is more expense for the processor. He is a co-founder at Marksbury Farm Market in Garrard County.

“As a company that employs 36 Kentuckians, any additional expense is significant to us,” Hack said. “We’re not a mulit-million dollar, multi-national poultry processor that can easily absorb those kind of expenses.”

The USDA increased standards for whole chickens in 1996, but now knows the chance of salmonella increases as chicken is processed. The further processed meat like chicken wings and breasts make up 80 percent of the chicken available for purchase.

Health officials are investigating a salmonella outbreak in Hopkins County, with 10 confirmed cases and one fatality.

Environmental supervisor for the Hopkins County Health Department Barry Franklin said an investigation has begun to determine the cause of the outbreak.

“We try to find the common commonality among these ten individuals of the foods they’ve eaten and when, all this stuff, to try to narrow it down to certain places,” Franklin said. “Then we’ll go out to those where it’s been narrowed down to, and if they’ve got food left, we’ll sample some and submit it to the state lab in Frankfort for testing.”

The Food and Drug Administration has identified a southern Indiana farm that produces cantaloupes linked to a deadly salmonella outbreak and says the operation has recalled its melons. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that of 178 people infected in 21 states, two have died and 62 have been hospitalized.

North Carolina Cantaloupe Growers

The Department for Public Health says cantaloupes tested in the state public health laboratory  in Kentucky carry the same strain of salmonella associated with a statewide outbreak that health officials say is continuing.  At least fifty people have been sickened by the salmonella, and health officials say it has been associated with two deaths.