-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, Dec. 19, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Potentially harmful
bacteria was found on 97 percent of chicken breasts bought at
stores across the United States and tested, according to a new
And about half of the chicken samples had at least one type of
bacteria that was resistant to three or more classes of
antibiotics, the investigators found.
The tests on the 316 raw chicken breasts also found that most
had bacteria -- such as enterococcus and E. coli -- linked to fecal
contamination. About 17 percent of the E. coli were a type that can
cause urinary tract infections, according to the study, published
online and in the February 2014 issue of
In addition, slightly more than 11 percent had two or more types
of multidrug-resistant bacteria.
Bacteria on the chicken were more resistant to antibiotics used
to promote chicken growth and to prevent poultry diseases than to
other types of antibiotics, the study found.
These findings show that "consumers who buy chicken breast at
their local grocery stores are very likely to get a sample that is
contaminated and likely to get a bug that is multi-drug resistant.
When people get sick from resistant bacteria, treatment may be
getting harder to find," said Dr. Urvashi Rangan, a toxicologist
and executive director of the Food Safety and Sustainability Center
The magazine has been testing U.S. chicken since 1998, and rates
of contamination with salmonella have not changed much during that
time, ranging from 11 percent to 16 percent of samples.
This is the first year that the study looked at six different
bacteria. It found the following contamination rates: enterococcus
(80 percent), E. coli (65 percent), campylobacter (43 percent),
klebsiella pneumonia (14 percent), salmonella (11 percent) and
staphylococcus aureus (9 percent).
Rangan said other countries do a better job of curbing chicken
contamination. "There is no reason why the United States can't do
the same," she said.
"We know especially for salmonella, other countries have reduced their rates," Rangan said. "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."
Each year in the United States, 48 million people become sick
and 3,000 die from eating tainted food. Contaminated poultry is the
leading cause of such deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention.
The federal government needs to do more to protect Americans,
according to Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of
Consumer Reports. Much-needed measures include giving the
U.S. Department of Agriculture the authority to mandate recalls of
meat and poultry products, and prohibiting antibiotic use in food
animals, except to treat sick ones, the authors suggest.
To help protect you and your family,
Consumer Reportsoffered the following tips to ensure proper
handling and cooking of chicken:
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more
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