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Take special care when handling and cooking chicken

September 30, 2018

Americans eat more chicken every year than any other meat. Chicken can be a nutritious choice, but raw chicken is often contaminated with Campylobacter bacteria and sometimes with Salmonella and Clostridium perfringens bacteria.

If you eat undercooked chicken or other foods or beverages contaminated by raw chicken or its juices, you can get a foodborne illness, which is also called food poisoning.

Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that every year about a million people get sick from eating poultry that’s contaminated with harmful germs. On August 29, CDC released an alert of an outbreak of Salmonella in chicken by reporting 17 persons infected in 4 states, 8 hospitalizations with one person dying in New York City.

It is important to take special care when handling and preparing chicken. If chicken is on your menu, follow these tips when shopping, cooking, and eating out to help prevent food poisoning:

n Place chicken in a disposable bag before putting in your shopping cart or refrigerator to prevent raw juices from getting onto other foods.

n Wash hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds before and after handling chicken.

n Do not wash raw chicken. During washing, chicken juices can spread in the kitchen and contaminate other foods, utensils, and countertops.

n Use a separate cutting board for raw chicken.

n Never place cooked food or fresh produce on a plate, cutting board, or other surface that previously held raw chicken.

n Wash cutting boards, utensils, dishes, and countertops with hot soapy water after preparing chicken and before you prepare the next item.

n Use a food thermometer to make sure chicken is cooked to a safe internal temperature of 165°F.

n If cooking frozen raw chicken in a microwavable meal, handle it as you would fresh raw chicken. Follow cooking directions carefully to prevent food poisoning.

n If you think the chicken you are served at a restaurant or anywhere else is not fully cooked, send it back for more cooking.

n Refrigerate or freeze leftover chicken within 2 hours (or within 1 hour if the temperature outside is higher than 90°F).

Anyone can get food poisoning, but children younger than 5 years of age, adults aged 65 and older, people with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women are more likely to develop a serious illness. Call or see the doctor if you or someone in your care has the following signs of food poisoning:

n High fever (temperature more than 101.5°F).

n Diarrhea for more than 3 days that is not improving.

n Bloody stools.

n Prolonged vomiting that prevents you from keeping liquids down.

n Signs of dehydration, such as:

n Making very little urine.

n Dry mouth and throat.

n Dizziness when standing up Source: CDC.gov.

Julie Buck, EdD, RDN, is a registered dietitian, food safety, health, nutrition and food safety educator employed at the University of Idaho Extension, Bingham County. She can be reached at (208)785-8060 or jhbuck@uidaho.edu.

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