After nearly 300 people became sick from salmonella in 18 states, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued a public health alert. The culprit is raw chicken produced at three Foster Farms facilities in California. Luckily, proper handling of poultry can help prevent illness. To do so, make sure to follow these five food safety rules.
#1: Defrost Properly
Those days of defrosting on your counter top overnight are long gone. One bacterium can multiply to 1 billion over 10 hours—something you don’t want to fool around with. To properly defrost chicken, place it in the refrigerator on a tray the night before. If you have smaller pieces of chicken, you can defrost in the microwave (look for the “defrost” button), as long as you cook them immediately after.
#2: Store Chicken Properly
When placing raw chicken in the refrigerator, make sure it is wrapped and stored on a lower shelf. Only proper cooking can destroy the bacteria, so foods that will not be further cooked (like cheese, veggies or fruit) should be placed above the raw chicken so the chicken juices won’t drip on them.
#3: Skip the Rinsing
Could it be that Julia Child’s habit of rinsing chicken has stuck with us after all these years? A recent study conducted at Drexel University found that 90% of folks still do it! For the first time, in 2005, the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans included food safety, and they advise against rinsing chicken before cooking. The reason is that those chicken juices get all over the place—other dishes, the inside of the sink and the counter tops–creating a bacterial playground.