October 16, 2017

Chicken and Food Poisoning

Information about chicken and food poisoning has been posted on the Foodsafety.gov website. This meat has been linked to several food poisoning outbreaks in the past few years. About a million Americans every year get sick from eating contaminated poultry. And Americans eat more chicken every year than every other meat.

Raw whole chicken

Raw chicken is often contaminated with Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Clostridium perfringens bacteria. Undercooked chicken, or foods that are contaminated by raw chicken juices, can cause serious illness. You need to pay special attention when you have raw chicken in your home.

When you’re shopping, put the chicken into a disposable bag before you put it into your shopping card. I get a bag, then put my hand into it, pick up the chicken, and turn the bag inside out so I know I didn’t touch the package, because studies have shown the packages may be contaminated as well. In 2015, a study conducted by the Food Standards Agency in the UK found that 7% of package exteriors were contaminated with Campylobacter.

And always wash your hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds after you handle chicken or chicken packages. Keep the chicken in the disposable bag when you put it into the fridge. Make sure that the chicken cannot drip juices onto foods underneath it.

Do NOT wash raw chicken. Chickens are cleaned before they are put into the marketplace. That doesn’t mean they are free from bacteria; it means you don’t have to wash them before they are cooked. When chickens are rinsed in a sink, bacteria aerosolize and can spread up to three feet away, contaminating countertops, utensils, other foods, and you.

Always use a separate cutting board when you are preparing raw chicken Never put cooked food or fresh produce on a plate that previously held raw chicken. Wash cutting boards, utensils, dishes, and countertops with hot soapy water after preparing raw chicken.

When cooking chicken it must always be cooked to 165°F. Raw or undercooked chicken is not safe. The trend for eating chicken sashimi is a recipe for serious foodborne illness. Use a food thermometer to check the final internal temperature of the meat. Color of the meat or juices is not a reliable indicator of doneness.

If you are cooking frozen raw chicken, such as frozen stuffed chicken breasts, consider not using the microwave oven. There have been several food poisoning outbreaks linked to these products over the years, including outbreaks in 2015 linked to Aspen Chicken raw stuffed breasts and Barber Foods raw stuffed breasts, and many recalls.

Many of those sickened in those outbreaks said they prepared the chicken as directed on the package in the microwave oven. Unfortunately, the microwave oven does not always cook food evenly and can leave cold spots. Treat frozen raw chicken just as you would fresh raw chicken: as a potential hazard.

If you think that the chicken you are eating in a restaurant or elsewhere is not fully cooked, don’t hesitate to send it back. Your health is more important than hurt feelings.

Always freeze or refrigerate leftover coked chicken within 2 hours. That number decreases to 1 hour if the air temperature is above 90°F. And remember that if you are on a picnic, coolers cannot chill warm food to a safe temperature; they can only keep cold food at a safe temperature.

Call the doctor if you have eaten chicken and have the following symptoms: high fever, diarrhea for more than 3 days, bloody stools, prolonged vomiting, signs of dehydration, including dry mouth and throat, dizziness when standing up, and producing very little urine.

Finally, always follow the four rules of Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill established by food safety experts. You can reduce your changes of getting food poisoning by following these steps.

 

By submitting a comment, you are contacting Pritzker Hageman, P.A. An attorney may contact you to ask if you would like a free consultation regarding your foodborne illness.

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