Report finds contamination in most chicken sold in US

Almost all of the raw chicken sold in the US contains potentially harmful bacteria such as salmonella and E.coli, according to an analysis by Consumer Reports published Thursday.

The magazine tested 316 breasts in 26 states and "found potentially lurking in almost all of the chicken, including organic brands," it said.

The analysis found that chicken from the four largest brands (Perdue, Pilgrim's, Sanderson Farms, Tyson) "contained worrisome amounts of bacteria" and that more than half the chicken breasts were tainted with fecal contaminants that can cause blood and urinary-tract infections.

The research analyzed chicken from major brands, including Wal-Mart Stores, Whole Foods, Kroger and Trader Joe's.

The magazine's study was already underway this fall when there was an outbreak of that government investigators linked to chicken sold by three Foster Farm plants. In that case, some 389 people were infected, the magazine said.

"What's going on with the nation's most popular meat?" queried the well-known consumer publication, pointing out that Americans buy an estimated 83 pounds of chicken a person each year.

The magazine said more than 48 million people fall sick each year due to food tainted with salmonella, campylobacter, E. coli, and other contaminants, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that "more deaths were attributed to poultry than to any other commodity."

The CDC has studied outbreaks from 1998 to 2008.

Bacteria from contaminated chicken is also problematic because it can spread easily through "cross-contamination" in the kitchen if consumers touch other surfaces, the magazine said.

Recommendations for averting contamination include washing one's hands immediately after touching raw chicken and cooking the chicken to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

A statement by the National Chicken Council said the Consumer Reports analysis looked at a sample size of only .0004 percent of chicken sold on any given day.

"Americans eat about 160 million servings of chicken every single day, and 99.99 percent of those servings are consumed safely," the council said. "Unfortunately, this particular statistic was left out of the 'in depth' piece recently published by Consumer Reports."

While bacteria cannot be entirely eliminated, smart handling can ensure food safety, the council said. "All bacteria, antibiotic resistant or not, is killed by proper cooking," the council added.

Officials with the US Department of Agriculture did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Urinary tract infections linked to contaminated chicken

Feb 20, 2012

Urinary tract infections are common conditions that occur when bacteria from the intestines enter the urinary tract. New research, however, suggests that the bacteria causing these infections may come from contaminated food ...

Recommended for you

UN says Syria vaccine deaths was an NGO 'mistake'

4 hours ago

The recent deaths of Syrian children after receiving measles vaccinations was the result of a "mistake" by a non-governmental partner who mixed in a muscle relaxant meant for anesthesia, a spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general ...

First US child dies from enterovirus D68

5 hours ago

A child in the northeastern US state of Rhode Island has become the first to die from an ongoing outbreak of a respiratory virus, enterovirus D68, health officials said Wednesday.

US Ebola patient had contact with kids: governor

5 hours ago

A man who was diagnosed with Ebola in virus in Texas came in contact with young children, and experts are monitoring them for any signs of disease, governor Rick Perry said Wednesday.

UN worker dies of suspected Ebola in Liberia

5 hours ago

The United Nations mission in Liberia announced on Wednesday the first suspected victim among its employees of the deadly Ebola epidemic ravaging the impoverished west African nation.

User comments