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New Study: 97% of All Chicken Breasts Contain Harmful Bacteria

Consumer Reports shines a sickening light on America's most popular meat.
 
 
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A new Consumer Reports study finds a disturbingly high statistic: 97% of the chicken breasts CR tested were found to harbor bacteria that could make you sick. That's just three percent shy of all the chicken

The report analyzed more than 300 raw chicken breasts purchased at stores across the U.S., and found potentially harmful bacteria lurking in almost all of the it. The staggering statistic also included organic brands, so foodies beware: a revised label and trendy buzzword does not a safe poultry make. The numbers came to light during an intensive investigation after the October news of a national salmonella outbreak linked to three Foster Farms chicken plants, which soon yielded troubling results for more than just the one company’s chicken product. In the case of the Foster Farms outbreak, nearly 390 people were infected, with 40% of them hospitalized in critical condition—double the percentage historically linked to salmonella outbreaks. 

The news marks a particularly dark turn in what is widely considered America’s most popular meat. Consumer Reports estimates that Americans buy an average of 83 pounds of chicken per capita annually. Each year, nearly 2 million Americans fight antibiotic-resistant infection, with 23,000 succumbing to the virus. As a result, many are calling for the Food and Drug Administration to release new guidelines addressing antibiotic overuse in livestock. 

The Consumer Reports test found bacteria in chicken purchased in markets in 26 states across the country. Additionally, the report found that almost none of the major brands were free of bacteria, more than half were tainted with fecal contaminants, about half of the samples tested positive for at least one multi-drug-resistant bacterium, and of the 65% of samples that tested positive for E. coli, nearly 18% featured particularly vicious strands of the disease that are known to heighten the probability of urinary-tract infection substantially higher.

While cooking chicken at specific temperatures does tend to kill bacteria if heat reaches at least 165 degrees fahrenheit, the temperature may not be enough to eliminate risk of exposure, as bugs and disease may linger elsewhere on kitchen surfaces, faucets and utensils. Even worse, contaminated chicken can affect people not buying chicken when it lingers on shopping carts at the grocery stores. 

There's a lot more in the extensive report, including how to protect yourself, which you can read when you  click here.

Rod Bastanmehr is a freelance writer in New York City. Follow him on Twitter @rodb.

 
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