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Eating undercooked poultry could give you a UTI

  • 25% of poultry samples had same bacteria  found in UTI patient’s urine samples
  • This could be caused by E. coli, which is found in the gut and faeces of animals 
  • Could be caused by consuming chicken and turkey that isn’t fully cooked
  • Or it could be the result of not following guidelines for handling raw meat
  • Anyone can get a UTI but they are particularly common in women

Eating under-cooked chicken and turkey could give you a urinary tract infection (UTI), research has found.

Scientists found that nearly 25 percent of poultry samples they examined from retail stores contained bacteria that shared the same genetic fingerprints as urine taken from patients with water infections.

The finding has led them to believe that UTIs can be caused by E. coli, which is found in the gut and faeces of many animals.

The team suspect that UTI patients are consuming poultry that either isn’t fully cooked or they’re not using appropriate guidelines for handling raw meat.

A team from the University of California in Berkeley carried out the research after colleagues had earlier suggesting a link between some drug-resistant UTI cases and a certain strain of E. coli.

Scientists believe that UTIs can be caused by E. coli bacteria in under-cooked chicken and turkey (stock photo)

Most of these bugs are harmless, but some types cause diarrhoea, vomiting, fever and stomach cramps.

In the worst cases, E. coli infection can lead to kidney failure and even death.

‘When we compared the fingerprints of the E. coli from the poultry and the human UTI cases, we found there’s an overlap of some genotypes,’ said study author Dr Lee Riley, a professor of infectious disease at Berkeley’s School of Public Health.

‘We need to somehow explain why UTI cases have the same E. coli we find in poultry.

Anyone can get UTIs, which cause pelvic pain or burning with urination, but they’re particularly common in women who have shorter urethras than men.

How the research was carried out     

The researchers collected 1,020 urine specimens from UTI patients who were mostly women. 

They found 21 percent had E. coli. The infection-causing bacteria was also found in 38 percent of 200 meat samples examined in Northern California.

About a third (32 percent) of the chicken samples and 14 percent of turkey samples contained bacterial strains identical to those found in UTI patients.

‘For some reason, poultry seems to be contaminated more than other meat samples,’ explained Dr Riley.  

The researchers presented the findings at the conference ID Week 2017. 


Some people wash meat before they cook it, but this actually increases your risk of food poisoning, because the water droplets splash onto surfaces and can contaminate them with bacteria. For this reason, it’s best not to wash meat.

It’s important to prepare and cook meat properly. Cooking meat properly ensures that harmful bacteria on the meat are killed. If meat isn’t cooked all the way through, these bacteria may cause food poisoning.

Bacteria and viruses can be found all the way through certain meat. This means you need to cook these sorts of meat all the way through. When meat is cooked all the way through, its juices run clear and there is no pink or red meat left inside.

Meats that you should cook all the way through are:

  • Poultry and game, such as chicken, turkey, duck and goose, including liver
  • Pork
  • Offal, including liver
  • Burgers and sausages
  • Kebabs
  • Rolled joints of meat

You can eat whole cuts of beef or lamb when they are pink inside – or ‘rare’ – as long as they are cooked on the outside. This is because any bacteria are generally on the outside of the meat.

These meats include:

NHS Choices