January 16, 2018

Pink Chicken Livers? Not So Fast.

Many recipes for chicken livers and pate made with chicken livers advise you to cook until the outside is browned and the insides are still pink. But that practice, just like serving medium rare hamburgers and runny eggs, can be dangerous.

A new study by scientists at the University of Aberdeen found that 81% of the chicken livers bought in the UK contained Campylobacter. The study was published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology.

In fact, 56% of the Campylobacter found in those contaminated chicken livers matched the most common types of the bacteria found in those with Campylobacter food poisoning.

In 2011, there were 18 Campylobacter outbreaks in the UK, sickening 443 people. Half of those outbreaks occurred at wedding receptions, one venue where pate is commonly served. Outbreaks of Campylobacter poisoning aren’t common; the illness is usually caused by home-cooked food, especially undercooked or improperly handled poultry products.

Some chefs believe that leaving the livers partially cooked makes the pate taste better, with a better texture. But that isn’t true. Beating the mixture thoroughly and adding lots of fat is what makes pate so rich and luxurious.

Using a food thermometer is the only way to make sure that chicken livers, as well as all poultry and meat products, are cooked to a safe final temperature.

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