NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — Americans eat more chicken than any other type of meat and it’s usually a healthy choice.
Still, some 48-million people get a food borne illness every year leading to 3,000 deaths, one in five of those is due to poultry, CBS 2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported.
For years Americans have been told to eat less red meat and more chicken because it is lower in saturated fat and cholesterol. However, chicken is also higher in bacterial contamination, according to Consumer Reports.
“It’s not realistic to expect that all the chicken you’re going to buy is free of bacteria,” Dr. Urvashi Rangan explained.
Dr. Rangan’s statement came as a result of large-scale testing of raw chicken breasts from across the country. Ninety-seven percent of the samples tested were contaminated with at least one strain of disease-causing bacteria, Consumer Reports said.
The contamination was found in all sorts of raw chicken.
“We didn’t find that there was any brand or type of chicken that we would recommend to be safer than another whether that was labeled organic, or no antibiotics used, or any of the big brands,” Dr. Rangan said.
Consumer Reports has called for stricter standards and increased inspections at chicken processing plants. They have also called for the banning of all antibiotics used to treat healthy chickens over concerns that the treatments could lead to drug-resistant germs.
“When you’re at the store grab a plastic bag before you grab that package of chicken and bundle it in the bag. When you get it home put it right in the fridge and leave it in that bag so it’s really not coming into contact with any surface in your refrigerator. But, make sure that once you handle it you don’t handle anything else until you’ve washed your hands thoroughly,” Dr. Rangan said.
Chicken is still a healthy food as long as certain precautions are followed.
CBS 2’s Dr. Gomez added that chicken should not be washed under running water because tiny droplets can carry bacteria onto nearby kitchen counters, chicken that is cooked thoroughly does not have to be washed at all.
It’s also important to wash your hands, cutting boards, and utensils thoroughly after handling chicken.
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