Chicken is one of the most widely eaten meats in the U.S. and around the world, but it could also be one of the most dangerous.
Consumer Reports this week revealed the results of its recent tests of meat and poultry, showing that nearly all of the U.S. chicken breasts it tested were contaminated with some sort of harmful bacteria.
Of the 316 raw chicken breasts examined in the survey, 97% of them were found to have harmful bacteria. Nearly 80% of the breasts had enterococcus, 65% of them had E.coli, 43% had campylobacter, over 13% had klebsiella pneumonia, nearly 11% had salmonella, and 9% had staphylococcus detected on them.
In addition to the harmful bacteria, the report shows that chicken farming may be significantly be contributing to the problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Half of the chicken breasts tested in the study were found to have at least one strain of multidrug-resistant bacteria. Most of the resistances seen in the chicken were related to antibiotics used in chicken farming.
The FDA has recently announced a plan to heavily restrict the use of antibiotics in food animals, especially the practice of using antibiotics to promote animal growth.
“Our tests show 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 multidrug resistant. When people get sick from resistant bacteria, treatment may be getting harder to find,” said Urvashi Rangan, executive director of Food Safety and Sustainability at Consumer Reports. “Our survey also shows that consumers are making buying decisions based on label claims that they believe are offering them additional value when that is not in fact the case. The marketplace clearly needs to change to meet consumer expectations.”