Raw poultry, especially chicken, can carry harmful bacteria, such as salmonella. These harmful bacteria are generally responsible of a thousands of food poisoning cases that happen in our households. Luckily, avoiding being poisoned by the harmful bacteria in poultry is relatively easy, as long as you are well-informed and follows safe food preparation practices.

Shopping for Poultry- How to do it Safe?

When the poultry and chicken are delivered to the stores, the fresh chicken is chilled first in order to prolong its shelf life and prevent bacteria from growing. Chicken packages should be cold and make sure to pick up your chicken just before checking out. Chicken packages must be wrapped tightly in plastic to prevent leakage, which may contaminate other grocery items.

When you get home, place the chicken immediately in the refrigerator with a minimum of 40°F. That is, if you plan to use it within 2 days upon purchase. If not, you should freeze your chicken at 0°F.

Safe Practices in the Kitchen – Thawing

First, you should never thaw your chicken in the microwave, nor leave it to defrost on the counter since the temperature will rise significantly. This is not acceptable because a rise in temperature will cause microorganisms to multiply.

The right way to thaw your frozen poultry is to do it in the refrigerator. Defrosting time depends on the size of the chicken. For instance, if you are thawing a whole chicken, you may need about 2 days for it to fully defrost. Boneless chicken breasts, on the other hand, may take overnight before you can cook it properly. Once the poultry has totally defrosted, you should keep it inside the refrigerator for no more than 1 day or better yet, cook it immediately.

Safe Poultry Preparation

Like any other animal-based products, undercooked or raw chicken carry several bacteria that could make you ill when ingested in high amounts. To avoid falling ill just by eating poultry, ensure safe preparation practices to limit the bacteria’s ability to duplicate. Don’t leave your poultry or chicken at room temperature (40°F to 140°F) for more than 1 hour.

Keep in mind though that freezing won’t kill the bacteria already present in the poultry, it only slows down their growth. Another thing that you should consider when preparing uncooked poultry is the risk of cross-contamination. This can take place when raw chicken or poultry, or its juices, come into contact with other food ingredients. This is especially dangerous for foods that are already cooked and the ones that are usually eaten raw like salads and fruits. You can prevent this from happening by making sure to cut your raw poultry on a separate cutting board and not on the same one that you will be using to cut your tomatoes later on.

Which is Better: Fresh or Frozen?

Fresh poultry that is sold in the supermarkets have temperature no colder than 26 degrees. On the other hand, frozen poultry is kept at at least 0 degrees or colder.

Whichever you choose, you just have to follow the proper preparation and storage procedures for poultry products like chicken. Also, you have to check the “sell by” and “use by” dates.

Poultry or chicken is one of the most common ingredients in our everyday cooking. It creates tasty recipes that are usually easy to prepare and not to mention really inexpensive. Don’t get intimidated with poultry preparation. Just follow the safety tips in preparing poultry or chicken and you will surely enjoy this healthy protein.