As noted yesterday in Most Chicken Producers’ Safeguards “Inadequate,” store-bought chicken is routinely contaminated with the pathogens salmonella and campylobacter.

“Our tests show that campylobacter is widespread in chicken, even in brands that control for salmonella,” says Urvashi Rangan, PhD, director of technical policy at Consumers Union (CU), the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports. “While one name brand, Perdue, and most air-chilled [organic] chickens, were less contaminated than others, this is still a very dirty industry that needs better practices and tighter government oversight.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point requires companies to identify potential points of contamination and take measures to eliminate them. But while the USDA has a standard that requires chicken producers to test for salmonella, it first announced campylobacter performance standards on Dec. 31. They will not be implemented until July.

“USDA has been pondering new standards to cut the prevalence of bacteria in chicken for more than 5 years,” says Jean Halloran, CU’s director of food policy initiatives. “Consumers shouldn’t have to play roulette with poultry. The USDA must make chicken less risky to eat.”

Photo: Anna Bates/CDC

Tune in tomorrow for Part 3 of this article: Handle Chicken Safely