Chicken Bacteria

With 27 billion pounds of chicken sold in the U.S. this year, Americans eat chicken two to three times a week.

A word of caution: according to a new Consumer Reports study a stunning amount of the chicken on your plate could make you sick.

"Four to five times that you buy a chicken you have a chance of buying chicken that contains harmful bacteria," says Senior Scientist Dr. Urvashi Rangan, with Consumer Reports.

The main culprit, a bacteria called campylobacter.

Along with salmonella, they were found in all major brands. Even organically raised chickens contained bacteria.

Does this mean people should stop eating chicken?

"All you have to do is follow the usual handling and cooking instructions that have been out there for years," explains Richard Lobb with the National Chicken Council.

By all accounts, even Consumer Reports says, the bacteria can be easily destroyed by cooking chicken thoroughly to a temperature of at least 165 degrees.

Make certain that after handling chicken you wash the area and your hands with hot soapy water to prevent any cross contamination.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture currently does not test for campylobacter, but says new testing procedures will be developed next year.

However, it insists that existing regulations ensure chicken is safe when handled properly.

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