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Consumer Group Reports, 97 percent of Chicken Infected

Update Date: Dec 19, 2013 01:12 PM EST

When consumers buy any type of produce from a supermarket, they are all assuming that the products will be safe to eat. Despite the fact that manufacturing companies are supposed to distribute safe products, past recalls reveal that this is not always the case. In a new analysis conducted by Consumer Reports, the researchers found that chicken breasts tend to carry some kind of bacterial infection.

For this analysis, the researchers had tested over 300 samples of raw chicken breast taken from supermarkets throughout the United States. The researchers found that 97 percent of the breasts they tested contained potentially harmful bacteria. Roughly 50 percent of the samples had a strain that was resistant to an antibiotic. The researchers stated that the number of infected poultry does not represent an increase in bacterial infections over the past few years. They explained that finding bacteria on chicken is nothing new. However, they stressed the importance of handling poultry and cooking it to the right temperature to prevent any outbreaks.

The report was able to name six specific bacteria strains, with the most common one being enterococcus, which was found on 79.8 percent of the chicken tested. The researchers found E. coli on 65.2 percent of the samples, campylobacter on 43 percent of the samples, klebsiella pneumonia with 13 percent, salmonella with 10.8 percent and staphylococcus aureus with 9.2 percent.

"There is always a risk of food borne illness," commented Keeve Nachman from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future's Food Production and Public Health Program reported by Forbes. "But when a person comes down with an infection, if the pathogen is resistant, it is more expensive to treat, there are increased productivity losses and the survival rate is lower."

Due to the discovery of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria on so many samples of chicken, the researchers are concerned about the future of potential outbreaks. Antibiotic-resistant strains are tied to at least two million illnesses, killing around 23,000 people every year in the U.S, according to the background information provided by the report.

Consumer Reports had conducted the analysis at around the same time as the salmonella outbreak tied to Foster Farms chicken plants. That outbreak had sickened 389 people with 40 percent of them needing hospitalization. The report can be found here.

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