Food Safety: Tips to Prevent Salmonella Infection

by Bruce Montgomery Ph.D. January 16, 2017

Food Safety: Tips to Prevent Salmonella Infection

 

Chicken is a healthy meat that has a high amount of protein and low amount of fat. Many nutritionists recommend chicken white meat as a valued component of a healthy diet. I prepare and eat chicken breast once or twice each week, so I want to be sure that I am doing so safely. I am especially interested in knowing how to properly clean kitchen surfaces after preparing chicken.

Per the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), improperly handled or stored raw poultry can produce Salmonella bacteria -- an important cause of human illness in the United States. Salmonella causes approximately 1.2 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations, 450 deaths, and an estimated-$365 million in direct medical costs in the United States. About 100,000 illnesses per year are attributed to drug-resistant non-typhoidal Salmonella.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment.

FoodSafety.gov reports that adults 65 and older are at a higher risk for hospitalization and death from foodborne illness. This increased risk of foodborne illness is because our organs and body systems go through changes as we age, holding onto food longer and not always properly ridding bodies of foreign bacteria and toxins.

Tips to Prevent Salmonella Infection

CDC and the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommend that consumers follow these food safety tips to prevent Salmonella infection from raw poultry:

Clean

  • Wash hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds before and after handling poultry.
  • Wash utensils, cutting boards, dishes, and countertops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to prepare the next item.
  • Washing raw poultry before cooking is not Bacteria in raw poultry juices can be spread to other foods, utensils, and surfaces.

Separate

  • Separate poultry from other foods in your grocery-shopping cart and in your refrigerator.
  • Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw poultry.
  • Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw poultry.

Cook

  • Cook poultry to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F as measured with a food thermometer.

Chill

  • Chill food promptly and properly. Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared foods, and leftovers within 2 hours (or 1 hour if temperatures are above 90°F).

As for cleaning chicken juice from surfaces, the CDC and USDA recommend that you sanitize food contact surfaces with a freshly made solution of one tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach in one gallon of water.

Three precautions regarding this recommendation:

  1. Thoroughly rinse the bleach solution from surfaces
  2. Use a small amount of bleach – only one tablespoon per gallon maximum
  3. Never swallow bleach or let bleach contact your eyes

Per “Sanitizing Techniques in the Kitchen: On Handling Meat and the Bleach Debate” at kitchn.com, if you prefer a bleach alternative, spritz your cutting boards and utensils first with vinegar, then follow with 3% hydrogen peroxide, then rinse. 

Preventing food poisoning goes hand-in-hand with fall prevention. Both simply require that you take time and effort to ensure that you have prepared your environment to be safe for you, your family and all who visit (and eat chicken!) in your home.

 

 




Bruce Montgomery Ph.D.
Bruce Montgomery Ph.D.

Author

Dr. Bruce Montgomery is a licensed building contractor in Michigan and Florida. He is a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist as designated by the National Association of Home Builders. He has also achieved an Executive Certificate in Home Modification from the University of Southern California. He has a wide ranging educational background, including a Master of Science degree in Entomology, with a Master of Science degree in Forestry and a Ph.D. in educational administration.