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Contaminated chicken in your grocery cart?

(article, Culinate staff)

When you buy a chicken to cook, it turns out you may be getting more than just, well, chicken. Today, Naomi Starkman posts on the recent poultry findings by Consumer Reports magazine over on Civil Eats:

bq.Consumer Reports’ latest test of fresh, whole broilers bought in 22 states reveals that two-thirds of birds tested harbored salmonella and/or campylobacter, the leading bacterial causes of food-borne disease. 

According to Starkman, a media consultant who works with the magazine, these numbers are slightly better than they were the last time the magazine tested chicken, in January 2007, but that's little consolation: 

bq. \[In the most recent test\] campylobacter was in 62 percent of the chickens, salmonella was in 14 percent, and both bacteria were in 9 percent. Only 34 percent of the birds were clear of both pathogens. 

Both salmonella and campylobacter can cause intestinal distress, but campylobacter is linked with other problems as well, including meningitis, arthritis, and Guillain-Barré syndrome.
 
The report distinguishes among different companies' birds (Purdue's were the cleanest, while Tyson's and Foster Farms' were the most contaminated) and found that one type (organic "air-chilled" broilers) were the cleanest of all (about 60 percent were free of both pathogens). 

Over on the Consumer Reports_ website, the message is clear: Consumers must cook chicken to at least 165 degrees and prevent raw chicken and its juices from contaminating other food. 

Helpfully, there's also a list of reminders about how to buy and prepare safe chicken.