Let’s start with handling raw chicken purchased at a grocery store. First, disinfect the surfaces that the chicken will come in contact with, including your shopping cart. Disinfectant wipes are available at the store entrance or in the meat section.
For safety and quality, it is best to buy poultry products before the sell by date marked on the package. Freeze or prepare fresh poultry within two days. Next, cover your hand with the plastic bag provided at the meat counter, then place poultry in plastic bag. This helps to prevent cross contamination, which is raw proteins touching ready to eat foods such as lettuce.
Once you drive immediately home and put the groceries on the counter, wash your hands. Next, place the chicken in the refrigerator that is 40 degrees to thaw or directly into the freezer for longer storage. Packaged chicken placed in the refrigerator should be in a shallow pan and placed on a low shelf to prevent leakage from contaminating other foods and kept no more than two days. Wash your hands after handling raw proteins. If soap and water is not available, use hand sanitizer. When you are ready to cook the poultry, use a food thermometer and cook to a safe temperature of 165 degrees to kill harmful bacteria. Check the temperature just before food is expected to be “done.” Place food thermometer in the thickest part of food, making sure not to touch bone, fat or gristle. Clean food thermometer with hot, soapy water after each use. Store cooked leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer in airtight containers labeled with product name and date prepared. Consume within four days if not frozen.
By following these food safe poultry preparation steps, foodborne illness caused by Salmonella and Campylobacter can be prevented. Even one drop of raw poultry juice could contain enough Campylobacter to cause illness. Pay particular attention to a stomach ache in children, the elderly, pregnant women and immunocompromised persons as they are more likely to get sick from germs that cause foodborne illness. For more information contact your local University of Idaho Extension office.
Julie Buck, EdD, RDN, is a registered dietitian, who is employed as a family and consumer sciences educator at the University of Idaho Extension, Bingham County. She can be reached at 208-785-8060 or email@example.com.