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Chicken & Poultry Safety Tips

Salmonella and Other Bacteria Found in Chicken & Poultry

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Bacteria in Raw Chicken & Poultry

Here's a list of some of the bacteria that are associated with poultry products:
  • 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.

Chicken & Poultry Inspection & Grading

Inspection is mandatory for all chickens sold in the United States. Each chicken is individually examined to make sure that it is free of disease, is wholesome and fit for human consumption. Each chicken's organs are examined, too.

Grading is a voluntary system for evaluating quality, and one that is paid for by the chicken producer, not the taxpayer. Grading criteria include general appearance and meatiness, and takes into account the presence of defects such as bruises or other discoloration, cuts, or broken bones or feathers.

Fresh Vs. Frozen Chicken & Poultry

If the label on a raw poultry product bears the term "fresh," that indicates that it has never been colder than 26°F. Poultry that has at any time been kept at 0°F or colder must have a label indicating that it is "frozen" or "previously frozen," whatever the case may be.

Interestingly, poultry that has been kept at temperatures colder than 26°F but warmer than 0°F can be labeled neither fresh nor frozen.

Chicken & Poultry Product Dating

Federal regulations don't require poultry products to be dated. However, most retailers will date the chicken products that they sell.

If they do opt to date the product, regulations do require that there be a phrase signifying whether the date is a "sell by" date or a "use before" date, and the explanation must appear right next to the date.
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