Header graphic for print
Campylobacter Blog Surveillance & Analysis on Campylobacter News & Outbreaks

Don’t play chicken with health: practice food safety when preparing poultry

April 2, 2006
Press Release Newswire
Chicken is one of the most versatile and economical main dishes for people looking for nutritious and easy-to-fix meals. But if not stored, cooked and cleaned correctly, chicken can cause food poisoning and other food-borne illnesses.
Little Rock — “Chicken? Again?” That’s probably one of the most common laments heard over and over at dinnertime in homes throughout Arkansas.
Chicken is one of the most versatile and economical main dishes for people looking for nutritious and easy-to-fix meals. But if not stored, cooked and cleaned correctly, chicken can cause food poisoning and other food-borne illnesses.


“Most food-borne illnesses are caused by food becoming contaminated by its handlers,” notes Dr. Russ Kennedy, health and aging specialist with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. “There are a few simple ways to maintain a sanitary food preparation area, and following poultry handling guidelines can prevent the risk of contracting any food-borne illness associated with chicken, such as Salmonella.”
First, start with a clean work surface and restrict it to preparing chicken only.
“It’s a good idea to have one cutting board for just chicken or other poultry,” Kennedy says. “This way you know without a doubt that any uncooked chicken was contained in one spot while it was being prepared, and this minimizes the chance of cross-contaminating other dishes.”
Once raw chicken has been prepared, clean every surface that has come in contact with the chicken — cutting board, knives and other utensils, dishes and, most importantly, your hands. Vigilance in cleaning properly also prevents possible cross-contamination.
“The chicken we consume today comes to us with little chance of bacteria transmission,” Kennedy explains. “However, following these steps ensures no bacteria can thrive before it’s ingested.”
Next, properly and thoroughly cook chicken to eliminate bacteria. A good rule of thumb to follow is to cook a whole chicken to 180 degrees Fahrenheit as measured in the thigh using a food thermometer. In fact, notes Kennedy, “there’s no such thing as medium well-done chicken.”
Finally, be sure to store leftover chicken properly by wrapping it securely and storing in the refrigerator. Leftovers can be safely eaten up to three days after initially being cooked if thoroughly reheated.
“Never serve a dish after it has reached room temperature,” Kennedy says. “After an hour, throw away any remaining portions.”
For more information about food safety and nutrition, visit extension’s Web site, www.uaex.edu, or contact your county extension agent. The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the U of A Division of Agriculture.