Fact Check: Eating Chicken Does NOT Cause UTIs

Fact Check

  • by: Marlo Lee
Fact Check: Eating Chicken Does NOT Cause UTIs Safe Food

Does eating chicken cause a urinary tract infection (UTI)? No, that's not true: A food science professor told Lead Stories that while there may be research showing a genetic similarity between E. coli found in poultry and the bacteria that causes UTIs, "correlation does not equal causation."

The claim appeared on Facebook (archived here) on February 11, 2023. It opened:

Stop eating chicken. Chicken causes pancreas cancer, liver cancer, urinary tract infections, contamination with fecal matter.

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2023-02-28 at 2.58.53 PM.png

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tue Feb 28 19:50:14 2023 UTC)

The narrator in the video lists a number of reasons why people should stop eating chicken with no evidence to back up any of the statements.

In a February 28, 2023, email, Lynne McLandsborough, head of the department of food science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, told us:

I believe some research has shown genetic similarities between E. coli found in poultry and those causing UTIs. However, correlation does not mean causation. I am not up on the current research, but the scientist I saw floating this theory was Lee Riley at UC Berkley, a highly respected microbiologist. He passed away in 2022.

That video states that even if you cook the Chicken, you can still get a UTI - which is ridiculous. If Chicken is cooked to the recommended temperature of 170F, E. coli will be destroyed.

Riley and other doctors spoke about the relationship between UTIs and E. coli in this 2019 article.

Lead Stories previously debunked the claim that chicken was poison.

More Lead Stories fact checks debunking claims that certain food is dangerous can be found here and here.

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Marlo Lee is a fact checker at Lead Stories. She is a graduate of Howard University with a B.S. in Biology. Her interest in fact checking started in college, when she realized how important it became in American politics. She lives in Maryland.

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