Raw Chicken Safety – Simple Habits to Follow

Raw chicken can be very dangerous if not handled properly. Follow these raw chicken safety habits to ensure you are being safe.

Chicken has a reputation for being a food with safety concerns.  Much of that revolves around the fact that it carries the risk of salmonella which can get you very sick of you aren’t careful.

Follow these five simple habits for buying, storing, and prepping raw chicken meat.  With proper food knowledge of how to handle raw chicken, you can keep you and your family safe from salmonella and the chance of getting food poisoning.

Keep Your Chicken Cold

Fresh chicken needs to be kept cold so that it can extend the shelf life and also keep the potential of harmful bacteria from growing.  Temperature is one of the six factors that contribute to bacteria growing and causing a risk of getting food poisoning.

When you buy raw chicken at the store in the package, make sure you also keep a plastic bag wrapped around it when you’re transporting it home.  This way none of the raw chicken juice leaks over your other food.

When you get home, immediately get the chicken into the refrigerator.  The recommended time is to get it cold within two days, but just to be safe – do it right away.

Thawing Frozen Chicken:  Dos and Don’ts

Don’t ever defrost chicken on the counter or the microwave.  It’s not uncommon to read that this is safe, but it’s not.  Even if your microwave has a defrost setting on it.

This is because the microwave generates heat and that heat will produce temperatures that promote bacteria growth.  The defrost setting is just alternating bursts of power to start to thaw the chicken.  It’s not hitting it with a constant stream of energy but people still think it’s safe.

The proper way to defrost a chicken is to plan ahead and let it thaw in the refrigerator.  Whole chickens may take up to two days to fully thaw, but  boneless breasts can thaw overnight in most cases.  Once it does thaw, keep it in the refrigerator for no more than a day before cooking it.  Once it is thawed, use it within a day or toss it out!

Prevent the Growth of Harmful Bacteria

Just like meat, fish, or any other animal-based food – raw or under cooked chicken can carry certain bacteria.  This is what makes you sick if you give them the chance to multiply.

To avoid illness, you need to slow down their reproductive cycle which you do by refrigerating or freezing the food.  You can kill them all together by cooking it.

Just remember – freezing doesn’t kill the bacteria, it just makes them cold.  The only way to truly kill food borne bacteria is to thoroughly cook the food.

Avoid Cross Contamination

One of the biggest mistakes people make is to focus on the raw chicken itself.  That does make sense because it’s the most obvious thing to look at.  But they don’t factor in the juices or drippings, or even the surfaces used to prep the meat.

If you were cutting up raw chicken and then you use that same knife to cut up vegetables, you’re risking getting sick!  Either thoroughly clean the knife before using it on the vegetables or just use a completely different knife all together.

The cross contamination can also happen in the refrigerator.  Make sure that if you see any raw chicken juice leaking, clean it up immediately and disinfect that area. A good way to prevent this is to get the chicken wrapped tightly and put onto the bottom shelf of the fridge to prevent any drippings.

Cook Your Chicken Thoroughly

This may be the most important part of proper raw chicken handling.  You need to make sure that your chicken is cooked thoroughly to make sure that all of the food borne bacteria like salmonella is properly taken care of.

The US Department of Agriculture recommends these times for safely cooking all types of different chicken types and weights.

Type of Chicken Weight Roasting at 350°F Simmering Grilling
Whole Broiler/Fryer 3-4 lbs. 1¼-1½ hrs. Not suitable 60-75 min.
Whole Roasting Hen 3-4 lbs. 1¼-1½ hrs. Not suitable 60-75 min.
Whole Capon 4-8 lbs. 2-3 hrs. Not suitable 15-20 min./lb.
Whole Cornish Hens 18-24 oz. 50-60 min. 35-40 min. 45-55 min.
Breast Halves, bone-in 6-8 oz. 30-40 min. 35-45 min. 10-15 min./side
Breast Half, boneless 4 oz. 20-30 min. 25-30 min. 6-8 min./side
Legs or thighs 8 or 4 oz. 40-50 min. 40-50 min. 10-15 min./side
Drumsticks 4 oz. 35-45 min. 40-50 min. 8-12 min./side
Wings or wingettes 2-3 oz. 30-40 min. 35-45 min. 8-12 min./side

 

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