Chicken is the number one
species consumed by Americans.
Foodborne Organisms Associated with Chicken
As on any perishable meat, fish or poultry, bacteria can be found
on raw or undercooked chicken. They multiply rapidly at temperatures
between 40 °F and 140 °F (out of refrigeration and before
thorough cooking occurs). Freezing doesn't kill bacteria but they
are destroyed by thorough cooking.
USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service has a zero tolerance for
bacteria in cooked and ready-to-eat products such as chicken franks
or lunch meat that can be eaten without further cooking.
Most foodborne illness outbreaks are a result of contamination from
food handlers. Sanitary food handling and proper cooking and refrigeration
should prevent foodborne illnesses.
Bacteria must be consumed on food to cause illness. They cannot enter
the body through a skin cut. However, raw poultry must be handled
carefully to prevent cross-contamination. This can occur if raw poultry
or its juices contact cooked food or foods that will be eaten raw
such as salad. An example of this is chopping tomatoes on an unwashed
cutting board just after cutting raw chicken on it.
Following are some bacteria associated with chicken:
- Salmonella Enteritidis may be found in the intestinal
tracts of livestock, poultry, dogs, cats and other warm-blooded
animals. This strain is only one of about 2,000 kinds of Salmonella bacteria; it is often associated with poultry and shell eggs.
- Staphylococcus aureus can be carried on human hands,
in nasal passages, or in throats. The bacteria are found in foods
made by hand and improperly refrigerated, such as chicken salad.
- Campylobacter jejuni is one of the most common causes
of diarrheal illness in humans. Preventing cross- contamination
and using proper cooking methods reduces infection by this bacterium.
- Listeria monocytogenes was recognized as causing human
foodborne illness in 1981. It is destroyed by cooking, but a cooked
product can be contaminated by poor personal hygiene. Observe
"keep refrigerated" and "use-by" dates on labels.
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