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Consumer Reports finds 97 percent of raw chicken contaminated

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(CBS NEWS) - Consumer Reports magazine has released its most comprehensive study on meat and poultry and found potentially harmful bacteria in 97 percent of the chicken breasts they tested nationwide.

Urvashi Rangan, the magazine's director of consumer safety and sustainability, told the "CBS This Morning" co-hosts that they went to 26 different states and shopped for 316 raw chicken breasts.

"We did find 97 percent of one of the six bacteria that we looked for that can all be potentially harmful," she said. "But, even more concerning, about half of those were resistant to three or more antibiotic classes, making them multiple drug resistant."

Rangan said that in terms of food-borne illness and disease "chicken is a big culprit" and "people should be really careful when they're out there buying their chicken."

"You should handle it carefully. You should make sure that you buy it first in the store with a plastic bag, and there is no better choice out there. When we looked at all of the data out there, there's no better choice when it comes to safety," she said. "However, for other things – for other production practices – things like organic, other welfare labels do provide value, but what people don't really realize is that the natural label actually means nothing and often confuse it for those labels.

" She explained that to protect against possibly contaminated chicken, consumers want to be very "vigilant about how you handle that chicken."

"You want to use really careful practices in the chicken. You don't want to put your chicken in the sick and pour the faucet on it. You want to use a dedicated cutting board and put that right in the dishwasher," 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."

She said that the other statistic the magazine found was that 37 percent of people own a meat thermometer but the majority of people think they cook it to 165 degrees.

"You can't know unless you have a thermometer," she said.

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