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Consumer Reports: 97% of chicken tested had bacteria that could make you very sick

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Following a series of tests on raw chicken by Consumer Reports, experts say you should make sure it is thoroughly cooked before putting it on the dinner table.

Consumer Reports tested more than 300 raw chicken breasts and found 97 percent harbored bacteria that can make you sick.

In fact, most of the bacteria could even send you to the hospital.

Urvashi Rangan, Ph. D., with Consumer Reports, said, “We tested the chicken for six bacteria, including salmonella and campylobacter, which are common causes of food poisoning, and E. coli and enterococcus, which are typical measures of fecal contamination.”

The tests showed that more than half of the chicken breasts were tainted with E. coli and enterococcus.

In fact, all the major brands, including Perdue, Tyson, Sanderson Farms and Pilgrim’s, contained worrisome bacteria.

Even smaller brands and packages labeled ‘organic’ or no antibiotics’ contained dangerous bacteria.

Rangan said, “When we looked at all of the chicken breasts we tested, about half harbored at least one bacterium that was resistant to three or more common families of antibiotics.”

Rick Schiller ended up in the hospital with severe abdominal pain after eating chicken that was contaminated with salmonella.

He said, “I thought I wasn’t going to make it there for a little bit. I was that sick. I was so sick I couldn’t move around, I didn’t want to talk, I just wanted to lay there.”

Consumer Reports says when it comes to preparing chicken, you can’t be too careful.

Rangan said, “Our tests did not reveal any better choice, despite some differences among brands and types. You really want to make sure to cook chicken until it reaches 165 degrees in the center.”

It’s also important to wash your hands well after handling raw chicken.

Also, don’t wash raw chicken under the faucet, which can spread bacteria and increase your risk of getting sick.