Student finds kosher birds are nothing to crow about
By Shant Shahrigian
After Jack Millman, a senior at Horace Mann School, took a family trip to Israel during the winter of his sophomore year, he came back with more than memories of an exciting trip. The prevalence of kosher food in the country made him wonder how chicken prepared according to Jewish dietary rules is different than other varieties.
Earlier this year, Mr. Millman, 18, co-authored a groundbreaking research article providing some answers to that question. The paper, published in the peer-reviewed journal F1000 Research, said kosher chicken is about twice as likely to contain antibiotic-resistant E. coli as conventional chicken. It apparently marked the first scientific analysis of kosher food’s health benefits.
“Basically, we were trying to see what was healthier,” Mr. Millman said during an interview at Horace Mann. “Antibiotic resistance is a big issue, so that’s why we used that as a metric for healthiness.”
After consulting with his uncle, a microbiologist at Northern Arizona University, and Lance Price, a national expert on meat products’ resistance to antibiotics, Mr. Millman devised a legwork-intensive plan to test kosher, organic and conventional chickens along with ones raised without antibiotics.
From April to June 2012, Mr. Millman bought a total of 213 samples of popular chicken brands and shipped them in large industrial coolers to the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Flagstaff, Ariz. Since he did not have his driver’s license at the time, his mother Ann Marks drove him every other weekend to 15 total supermarkets, butchers’ shops and other stores in their neighborhood on Manhattan’s Upper East Side as well as the Upper West Side.
“I do have to say for a little bit after it, I wasn’t in the mood to cook any chicken,” Ms. Marks said.
KeywordsJack Millman, kosher food preparation, chicken, Jewish dietary rules, groundbreaking research article, F1000 Research, antibiotic-resistant E. coli, organic, conventional chickens, Shant Shahrigian