Potentially Harmful Bacteria Found in 97 Percent of Chicken Breasts

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) —  A Consumer Reports’ test of more than 300 raw chicken breasts purchased at nationwide retailers found potentially harmful bacteria in 97 percent of the samples.

The study, released Thursday, indicates about half the samples tested had at least one bacteria that was resistant to three or more classes of antibiotics. The bacteria involved in testing included E.coli and salmonella, along with four other types.

Lead researcher Urvashi Rangan recommends cooking meat to 165 degrees to kill the bacteria and to buy organic, not natural.

“There are really very few standards behind natural,” Rangan said. “There’s no inspection or verification. It has actually nothing to do with organic product or even meaningful sustainable production.”

Rangan also advises not to wash poultry as the water may splatter and spread bacteria.

As part of the investigation, Consumer Reports also conducted a survey of 1,005 participants regarding their understanding of labels and handling of chicken. More than half of respondents believed “natural” chickens did not receive antibiotics or genetically modified feed, and more than one-third thought the term “natural” is synonymous with “organic,” all of which are untrue.

“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,” Rangan said. “The marketplace clearly needs to change to meet consumer expectations.

An estimated 48 million people fall sick and 3,000 die in United States as a result of eating tainted food, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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