Consumer Reports analyzed fresh, whole broilers bought at a variety of national stores for salmonella and/or campylobacter and found that two-thirds of the chickens were contaminated. In my mind, that means that if you and the neighbors on either side of you all buy chickens and cook them tonight, two out of the three of your families could be rushing to the ER with stomach cramps later in the evening.

Until now, I’ve had a fairly devil-may-care attitude about making sure my meat is cooked to the proper temperature. My attitude has been “No one’s gotten sick so far.” I realize that I don’t know that for sure. What I’ve thought may have been a slight stomach virus in one of my kids in the past might have been slight food poisoning.

I finally realize that it’s time to stop assuming my family will be safe because so far we’ve been okay. I’m buying a meat thermometer, and I’m going to use it.

Here are some of Consumer Reports findings.

  • Campylobacter was found in 62 percent of the chickens.
  • Salmonella was found in 14 percent of the chickens.
  • Only 34 percent of the birds were totally free of contaminates.
  • In 2003 when Consumer Reports did a similar test, 51 percent of the birds were free of contaminates. (Wait, aren’t we supposed to have more food safety now?)
  • The organic chickens tested faired better overall than the non-organic chickens tested with air chilled chickens testing best of all.
  • The cleanest major brand chickens were from Perdue.
To read all their findings, head on over to the Consumer Reports site. The article will also appear in their January 2010 issue.

If anyone has any meat thermometer tips for me, leave them in the comments. I’m going to be needing them.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

That’s it. I’m buying a meat thermometer.
A study finds that two-thirds of broiler chickens are contaminated.