Chicken and other poultry inspection changes proposed

Prepare poultry safely.

Changes have been proposed to the inspection criteria for poultry products. Such changes which will help to reduce the amount of Salmonella bacteria and Campylobacter bacteria in ground poultry products and poultry sold in parts such as raw chicken breasts, legs and wings. The proposed changes will result in new standards set by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) which will help to reduce the outbreak of illness from Salmonella. According to the USDA, there about 50,000 cases of illness every year linked to raw poultry related foodborne illness.

In the interim, remember the most important thing you can do is to prepare poultry products safely in your home. When you purchase poultry products, take them home immediately and refrigerate them. While you are in the store, keep poultry and other meat products separated from other foods in your cart; use the plastic bags that are provided in the meat section of the store to bag poultry and meat products before placing these foods in your cart. If you have a long distance to travel or the weather is hot, bring a cooler and place the poultry on a freezer pack or on ice in the cooler until you get it home. Keep poultry products refrigerated until it is time to use them.

Do not thaw poultry on the counter; this practice can result in bacteria multiplying in warmer parts of the chicken while the interior portion is still thawing. You can thaw frozen poultry in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave, but you must cook the poultry immediately after thawing. Never let raw poultry sit at room temperature for more than two hours before putting it in the refrigerator or freezer. It is not recommended to rinse poultry. Rinsing poultry provides an opportunity for splashing water droplets around the rinse area, which may result in cross-contamination of other foods. Always marinate poultry in the refrigerator.

Michigan State University Extension recommends always washing hands before and after handling raw poultry. Wash surfaces and equipment such as knives and cutting boards after using them to prepare raw poultry, and before preparing other foods – especially foods that will not be cooked, such as fresh vegetables and fruit.

Always cook poultry products to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a clean thermometer to check the temperature in the thickest part of the chicken. Check the temperature in several places.

For more information about food safety when preparing meat or poultry products, contact MSU Extension.

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