FRIDAY, July 1, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Nearly one-third of ground chicken may contain dangerous Salmonella, a new Consumer Reports investigation shows. Based on its findings, the group called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to redouble its efforts to protect consumers from this bacteria, which can cause serious illness.

“The USDA has pledged to reduce illness from Salmonella contamination for more than a decade, but [Consumer Reports’] tests show that more progress is clearly needed to protect the public,” James Rogers, director of food safety research and testing at Consumer Reports, said in a statement. “We need tougher action by the USDA to keep Salmonella out of our kitchens and off of our plates.”

Salmonella was found in 31 percent, or 23 of the 75, samples of ground chicken that the group tested. Nine of the 25 products from Perdue had Salmonella, researchers found. Samples from Trader Joe’s and Wholesome Pantry, which get their chicken from Perdue, also had Salmonella, as did some chicken from Isernio’s, Walmart, and Whole Foods, they added. No one brand stood out as better or worse than another, according to the report, and no difference was found between ground chicken from organic and conventionally raised birds.

Researchers noted that all of the Salmonella found was resistant to at least one antibiotic and 78 percent resistant to several drugs. This could make an infection hard to treat.

Consumer Reports also found Salmonella in some ground beef, pork, and turkey that it tested. It reported that one sample of ground beef contained Escherichia. coli O157:H7, a strain considered particularly dangerous because it can harm the intestines and cause potentially fatal kidney damage.

Consumer Reports alerted the USDA earlier this year, leading to a recall of more than 28,000 pounds of meat from grocery chains in seven western states. The group said the USDA has taken aggressive steps to protect the public from dangerous strains of E. coli but has not taken action to protect consumers from Salmonella. More than 1 million Americans get sick from Salmonella each year, about five times as many as do with E. coli. About one-fifth of those cases are from contaminated chicken or turkey.

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