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Are Bacteria Lurking In Your Chicken Dinner?

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Dr. Ernest Levister, Jr.Two-thirds of all store-bought whole broiler chickens contain salmonella and/or campylobacter, according to a study by Consumer Reports.

The magazine tested 383 chickens it purchased in 100 supermarkets, gourmet- and natural-food stores, and other mass retailers in 22 states and found an alarmingly high level of contamination.

More than 80 percent of Tyson and Foster Farms chickens contained either one or both salmonella and capylobacter, making them the name-brand chickens with the most contaminates.

On the other hand, Perdue had the cleanest chickens with 56 percent of their birds found to be free from food-borne organisms.

Consumer Reports found the safest purchase to be air-chilled, organic broilers with 40 percent containing one or both salmonella or campylobacter.

It is especially important for consumers to be weary of cross-contamination as well as make sure to cook their chicken thoroughly – making sure the internal temperature reaches at least 165 degree F as suggested by the USDA.

The magazine had the following recommendations for cleaning and preparing chicken: At the store, place chicken in a plastic bag like those found in the produce department to keep juices from leaking on other items or your hands.

1. Choose chicken that is well wrapped and at the bottom of the case, where the temperature is coolest.

2. Buy chicken last before heading to the checkout line.

3. Store chicken at 40 degrees or below, or freeze it if you don’t plan to cook it for two days.

4. Thaw frozen chicken in a refrigerator, inside its packaging and on a plate, or on a plate in a microwave oven. Never thaw it on a counter.

5. Cook chicken to at least 165 degrees, and use a meat thermometer to check it.

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