December 8, 2019

USDA Study: Bacteria From Raw Chicken Transferred to Salads

A recent study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has found that consumers put themselves at risk of serious illness by washing or rinsing raw poultry.  Bacteria from raw chicken is easily transferred to other surfaces.

This common practice used to be recommended in cookbooks. But research has found that rinsing raw poultry aerosolizes the bacteria and the pathogens can spread up to three feet away from the faucet. In addition, the sink will most likely be contaminated.

USDA Study: Bacteria From Raw Chicken Transferred to Salads

Dr. Mindy Brashears, the USDA’s Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety said in a statement, “During this year’s study, 26 percent of participants that washed raw poultry transferred bacteria from that raw poultry to their ready to eat salad lettuce. Fortunately, small changes in the kitchen can lead to big health benefits for you and your family. Not washing meat and poultry reduces your risk of cross-contamination and can keep your family safe from foodborne illness.”

The study found that of participants who washed their raw poultry, 60% had bacteria in the sink after completing the task. And 14% of participants still had contaminated sinks after they cleaned it.

Of participants who did not wash the poultry 31% got bacteria from raw poultry onto their salad lettuce. This is likely the realist of a lack of effective handwashing and contamination of the sink and utensils.

So, to keep your family safe from bacteria from raw chicken, do these things:

  • Do not rinse or wash poultry before cooking it.
  • Clean sinks and countertops with hot soap water after working with any raw meat, then apply a sanitizer.
  • Use one cutting board for raw meat and poultry and another for fruits, veggies, and other uncooked foods.
  • Learn how to properly wash your hands. Wet hands with water, lather with soap for 20 seconds, scrubbing your hands well (including under the fingernails), rinse, and dry with a clean cloth or paper towel.
  • Always wash your hands immediately after handling raw meat, poultry, and raw eggs.
  • Always cook meat and poultry to safe final internal temperature and check that temp with a food thermometer. Beef, pork, fish, and veal should be cooked to 145°F; ground meats and egg dishes to 160°F, and all poultry to 165°F.
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