Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Potentially harmful bacteria and antibiotic resistance common in 316 raw poultry samples tested

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Dec. 19, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Potentially harmful bacteria was found on 97 percent of chicken breasts bought at stores across the United States and tested, according to a new study.

And about half of the chicken samples had at least one type of bacteria that was resistant to three or more classes of antibiotics, the investigators found.

The tests on the 316 raw chicken breasts also found that most had bacteria -- such as enterococcus and E. coli -- linked to fecal contamination. About 17 percent of the E. coli were a type that can cause urinary tract infections, according to the study, published online and in the February 2014 issue of Consumer Reports.

In addition, slightly more than 11 percent had two or more types of multidrug-resistant bacteria.

Bacteria on the chicken were more resistant to antibiotics used to promote chicken growth and to prevent poultry diseases than to other types of antibiotics, the study found.

These findings show that "consumers who buy chicken breast at their local grocery stores are very likely to get a sample that is contaminated and likely to get a bug that is multi-drug resistant. When people get sick from resistant bacteria, treatment may be getting harder to find," said Dr. Urvashi Rangan, a toxicologist and executive director of the Food Safety and Sustainability Center at Consumer Reports.

The magazine has been testing U.S. chicken since 1998, and rates of contamination with salmonella have not changed much during that time, ranging from 11 percent to 16 percent of samples.

This is the first year that the study looked at six different bacteria. It found the following contamination rates: enterococcus (80 percent), E. coli (65 percent), campylobacter (43 percent), klebsiella pneumonia (14 percent), salmonella (11 percent) and staphylococcus aureus (9 percent).

Rangan said other countries do a better job of curbing chicken contamination. "There is no reason why the United States can't do the same," she said.

"We know especially for salmonella, other countries have reduced their rates," Rangan said. "Systemic solutions were implemented throughout the European Union. Government data show that in 2010, 22 countries met the European target for less than or equal to 1 percent contamination of two important types of salmonella in their broiler flocks."

Healthy Recipe Finder

Browse our collection of healthy, delicious recipes, from WebMD and Eating Well magazine.

Top searches: Chicken, Chocolate, Salad, Desserts, Soup

Healthy Recipe Finder