AFP Photo / Miguel Medina

AFP Photo / Miguel Medina

A new study by Consumer Reports has found that a disturbingly high percentage of raw chicken breasts sold in the United States contain potentially harmful bacteria.

According to the study, researchers discovered at least one of six different kinds of bacteria in 97 percent of all the chicken breasts it purchased across 26 states in the US.

To make matters worse, many of the bacteria is resistant “to three or more antibiotic classes, making them multiple-drug resistant,” according to Urvashi Rangan, director of consumer safety and sustainability for Consumer Reports, who spoke with “CBS This Morning.”

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Not even chicken sold under organic labels could escape similar findings. Rangan didn’t dismiss organic products as worthless, but stated that when it comes to potential contaminants, “the natural label actually means nothing

These findings back up other studies revealing chicken as a leading cause of food-borne illnesses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “more deaths were attributed to poultry than to any other commodity” between 1998 and 2008.

Consumer Reports went on to state that “if antibiotic-­resistant bacteria continue their scary spread, they could lead to deadly infections after routine surgery or even a seemingly innocuous cut because the drugs that doctors prescribe will have lost their effectiveness.“

When it comes to properly handling raw chicken and avoiding illness, Rangan suggested effectively cleaning kitchen items and making sure that the food is cooked long enough to kill off any bacteria. The best way to ensure chicken is cooked correctly is to use a meat thermometer, but only 37 percent of Americans own one.

You want to use really careful practices in the kitchen,” she told CBS. “You don’t want to put your chicken in the sink and pour (water from) the faucet on it. You want to use a dedicated cutting board and put that right in the dishwasher” after cutting chicken on it, she said.

All the way through from when you buy it in the store to you serve it on your plate, you want to exercise really good hygiene.”

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