At least 92 people in 29 states have been infected with an outbreak strain of salmonella as of October 17, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Apparently, this particular strain has been linked to a variety of raw chicken products. Although no deaths have been reported so far, 21 people have been hospitalized after being infected, CNN reports.
Since a single, common supplier of these chicken products has not been identified, this suggests the strain might be widespread throughout the whole chicken industry. But wait — does this mean that you have to immediately toss all the raw chicken you have in your fridge or freezer right this second? Not necessarily.
The CDC is not recommending that people avoid eating properly cooked chicken or that stores should stop selling raw chicken products. Rather, health experts simply want to remind us that all raw chicken can have bad germs that might make us sick, such as salmonella. A salmonella infection can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and even blood in the stool, according to the Mayo Clinic. It's particularly risky for pregnant women, folks with compromised immune systems, and people who are very young or very old. That's why it's imprerative that we cook it the right way — as we should always do anyway.
How to Prepare and Cook Raw Chicken Safely
The CDC has some great reminders that you should brush up on before you handle raw chicken. The most important pointers include:
- Wash your hands before and after preparing and cooking the raw chicken — and any type of food, for that matter.
- Do not wash raw chicken before you cook it.
- Cook chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill harmful bacteria that may be lurking inside.
- Wash your hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils after they touch raw chicken.
- If possible, use a separate cutting board for raw chicken and other raw meats.
If you're planning on cooking chicken for your family tonight, it never hurts to revisit the most important safety tips while doing so. Remember: It's always better to be safe than sorry!