Study: 97 Percent Of Chicken Bought In Stores Contains Bacteria

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A bacteria culture that shows a positive infection of enterohemorrhagic E. coli, also known as the EHEC bacteria. (credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

A bacteria culture that shows a positive infection of enterohemorrhagic E. coli, also known as the EHEC bacteria. (credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

CBS DC (con't)

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WASHINGTON D.C. (CBSDC) – According to a new study, 97 percent of chicken breasts bought in stores across the U.S. was found to contain potentially harmful bacteria.

Researchers tested 316 pieces of raw chicken breasts and found that most had some sort of bacteria such as enterococcus and E. coli. They found that about half the chicken tested, contained bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics.

In addition, almost 17 percent of the chicken that contained E. coli could cause a urinary tract infection and more than 11 percent of the chicken contained two or more types of bacteria, according to the study.

“These finding show that consumers who buy chicken breast at their local grocery stores are very likely to get a sample is contaminated and likely to get a bug that is multi-drug resistant,” Dr. Urvashi Rangan, a toxicologist and executive director of the Food Safety and Sustainability Center at Consumer Reports told HealthDay. “When people get sick from resistant bacteria, treatment may be getting harder to find.”

Consumer Reports has been testing chicken since 1998 and they say the rate of contamination has been pretty consistent.

Dr. Rangan says other countries have a lower percentage and expects this country to do the same.

“There is no reason why the United States can’t do the same,” she told the magazine.  “We know especially for salmonella, other countries have reduced their rates.  Systemic solutions were implemented throughout the European Union. Government data show that in 2010, 22 countries met the European target for less than or equal to 1 percent contamination of two important types of salmonella in their broiler flocks.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 48 million people become sick and 3,000 die in the U.S. from eating contaminated food.  Contaminated chicken is the leading cause of all contaminated food deaths.

The study was published online and in the February issue of Consumer Reports.

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