Report finds contamination in most chicken sold in US

December 19, 2013

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.

Explore further: USDA: Poultry plants linked to outbreak stay open

Related Stories

USDA: Poultry plants linked to outbreak stay open

October 11, 2013
The Agriculture Department says three California poultry processing facilities linked to a salmonella outbreak in raw chicken can stay open, for now.

Urinary tract infections linked to contaminated chicken

February 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 ...

Salmonella outbreak sickens nearly 300 in US (Update 2)

October 9, 2013
A salmonella outbreak in raw chicken has sickened nearly 300 people in the United States, officials said Wednesday as consumer advocates warned the federal shutdown was hampering a government response.

Study says chicken, ground beef are riskiest meats

April 23, 2013
An analysis of more than 33,000 cases of foodborne illness shows that ground beef and chicken have caused more hospitalizations than other meats.

Recommended for you

MRSA emerged years before methicillin was even discovered

July 19, 2017
Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) emerged long before the introduction of the antibiotic methicillin into clinical practice, according to a study published in the open access journal Genome Biology. It was ...

New test distinguishes Zika from similar viral infections

July 18, 2017
A new test is the best-to-date in differentiating Zika virus infections from infections caused by similar viruses. The antibody-based assay, developed by researchers at UC Berkeley and Humabs BioMed, a private biotechnology ...

'Superbugs' study reveals complex picture of E. coli bloodstream infections

July 18, 2017
The first large-scale genetic study of Escherichia coli (E. coli) cultured from patients with bloodstream infections in England showed that drug resistant 'superbugs' are not always out-competing other strains. Research by ...

Ebola virus can persist in monkeys that survived disease, even after symptoms disappear

July 17, 2017
Ebola virus infection can be detected in rhesus monkeys that survive the disease and no longer show symptoms, according to research published by Army scientists in today's online edition of the journal Nature Microbiology. ...

Mountain gorillas have herpes virus similar to that found in humans

July 13, 2017
Scientists from the University of California, Davis, have detected a herpes virus in wild mountain gorillas that is very similar to the Epstein-Barr virus in humans, according to a study published today in the journal Scientific ...

Vaccines protect fetuses from Zika infection, mouse study shows

July 13, 2017
Zika virus causes a mild, flu-like illness in most people, but to pregnant women the dangers are potentially much worse. The virus can reduce fetal growth, cause microcephaly, an abnormally small head associated with brain ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.