Chicken is the most popular food prepared in American households. This makes it common at the butcher shop to be prepared constantly. One of the cheaper meats, chicken is lean, high in protein and highly versatile in its preparation. From baking, grilling, frying to soups chicken can go a long way in the household which is why many Americans have chicken at least once a week during their dinners.
While chicken is a versatile meat it is important to remember that it is a carrier of Salmonella as is any poultry. Salmonella is the cause of one million foodborne illnesses a year according to the CDC. This is because many of our daily lives cause us to be exposed to things that carry the disease. While many individuals are able to pull out of the illness after about a week, the symptoms are uncomfortable. Diarrhea, fever and cramps will develop within three days and can become so severe individuals will need to be hospitalized.
For over 125 years’ humans have been fighting against salmonella and it can be avoided all together with proper care in the kitchen especially. When handling chicken it is important to remember these facts as this will be the main way many individuals will be exposed to Salmonella.
- Washing your chicken isn’t necessary
- While many individuals wash their chicken because it is the natural thing to do, according to Ben Chapman, a food safety specialist at North Carolina state, it could lead to cross contamination making the chance of spreading the bacteria greater.
- Wash Wash Wash
- Wash anything and everything that comes in contact with the raw meat with soap and water. That means hands, utensils, cutting boards and counter tops. If you don’t remember if you washed it, wash it again. When it comes to raw meat washing is extremely important to reducing the risk of food borne illnesses.
- Avoid Cross Contamination
- This is a big one. Anytime you move from prepping raw poultry to another thing in your kitchen wash your hands. The bacteria will be on your hands and will spread to everything you touch if you don’t wash thoroughly. Use different cutting boards if needed and keep them separate in your shopping cart as sometimes the juices tend to drip in the packaging.
- Cook all the way through
- As with anything, the consumption of raw food could lead to food poisoning. That is why with chicken it is important to cook it to 165 degrees. Years ago it was believed that cooking the chicken to 180 degrees was necessary in order to kill the bacteria but research was done, and in reality 165 is the magic number. If you ever question the temperature for meat, there is a comprehensive list at the Food Safety
- Check with a thermometer
- Making sure it is cooked all the way through does not mean cutting it open and seeing if there is any pink left in the chicken. You need a meat thermometer to ensure that the chicken is cooked all the way. Make sure that you stick it into the thickest part of the breast if you are cooking chicken breast as that will take longer to cook. When you cook whole chicken, make sure that you check multiple places on the chicken as some sections may cook faster than others.
While many of this information can seem like common sense, it is up to your butcher to inform you of how to have a safe home environment for you. You should enjoy your food, not get sick from it.
If you need any chicken for your next meal or cook out, visit Alpine Butchers in Lowell and we will have everything you need.