Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How To Avoid Food-Borne Illness: Poultry Safety Tips

Food-borne illness is caused by eating food that contains harmful bacteria, toxins, parasites, viruses, or chemical contaminants.

Bacteria and viruses, especially Campylobacter, Salmonella, and Norwalk-like viruses, are among the most common causes of food-borne illness we know about today. Eating even a small portion of an unsafe food may make you sick. Signs and symptoms may appear within half an hour of eating a contaminated food or may not develop for up to 3 weeks.

Most food-borne illness lasts a few hours or days. Some food-borne illnesses have effects that go on for weeks, months, or even years. If you think you have become ill from eating a food, consult your health care provider.

Follow the steps below to keep your food safe. Be very careful with perishable foods such as eggs, meats, poultry, fish, shellfish, milk products, and fresh fruits and vegetables .

Who Is At High Risk Of Food-Borne Illness?
• Pregnant women

• Young children

• Older persons

• People with weakened immune systems or certain chronic illnesses
New information on food safety is constantly emerging. Recommendations and precautions for people at high risk are updated as scientists learn more about preventing food-borne illness. If you are among those at high risk, you need to be aware of and follow the most current information on food safety.

Safe Basics For Handling Poultry
Safe steps in handling, cooking, and storing poultry are essential to avoiding food-borne illness. Follow these guidelines to keep pathogens away.

Safe Shopping
• Never choose packages that are torn or leaking.

• Do not buy foods past "sell-by" or expiration dates.

• Place raw poultry in plastic bags so meat juices cannot cross-contaminate other foods.

• Place refrigerated or frozen items in your cart just prior to checking out.

• Keep perishable items inside the air-conditioned car - not in the trunk.

• Drive directly home with your groceries. If you live farther than 30 minutes away, place perishables in a cooler with ice.

Safe Storage of Foods
•Unload perishable foods from the car first and immediately refrigerate them. Place securely wrapped packages of poultry in the coldest section of your refrigerator.

• Check the temperature of your refrigerator with an appliance thermometer. It should be at 40°F; the freezer at 0°F.

• Cook or freeze fresh poultry within 2 days; other beef, veal, lamb, or pork within 3 to 5 days.

• Keep meat poultry in its package until just before using.

• If freezing meat poultry in its original package longer than 2 months, over-wrap these packages with airtight heavy-duty foil, plastic wrap, freezer paper or plastic freezer bags.

• Poultry defrosted in the refrigerator may be refrozen before or after cooking. If thawed by other methods, cook before refreezing.

Thaw Food Safely
• A refrigerator allows slow, safe thawing. Make sure thawing juices do not drip on other foods.

• For faster thawing, place food in a leak-proof plastic bag and submerge in cold tap water.

• If using a microwave to defrost, cook poultry immediately after thawing.



Never stuff the chicken in advance. Stuffing in advance will increase the risk of bacteria growth. Stuffing can be made in advance and refrigerated separately from the chicken and then inserted in the chicken just before cooking.


Safe Food Preparation

• Wash hands before and after handling raw poultry.

• Sanitize cutting boards often in a solution of 1 teaspoon chlorine bleach in 1 quart of water. Wash kitchen towels and cloths often in hot water in washing machine.

• Don't cross-contaminate. Keep raw meat, poultry, fish, and their juices away from other food. After cutting raw meats, wash hands, cutting board, knife, and counter tops with hot soapy water.

• Marinate poultry in a covered dish in the refrigerator.

For the latest information and precautions, call USDA's Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-800-535-4555, or FDA's Food Information Line, 1-888-SAFE FOOD, or consult your health care provider. You can also get up-to-date information by checking the government's food safety website at .


The following video, New Report From FDA On Food Borne Illness available on You Tube.


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