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Salmonellosis is a potentially fatal disease caused by salmonella, bacteria that can often be found in the intestines of animals, including chickens. The symptoms caused by salmonella can start between 12 hours and 72 hours after eating infected chicken and can include diarrhea, stomach cramps and fever. Many people infected with salmonella have mild symptoms and do not need to seek medical care. Frequent diarrhea, though, can require hospitalization. The young and old, or those with auto-immune disorders, are especially at risk of being more seriously affected by salmonella. You can prevent salmonellosis by taking these simple steps.

How to Avoid Salmonella with Chicken

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Keep raw meat separate from other items in your grocery cart, and place it in a separate shopping bag for the trip home.

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Place raw chicken in the fridge or freezer as soon as you get home to prevent the growth of bacteria.

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Thaw frozen chicken by placing in the fridge for six hours, defrosting in a microwave or placing in a bowl of cold water until thawed. Once thawed, chicken cannot be re-frozen or even re-refrigerated until it is cooked to a safe temperature.

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Cook raw meat to a safe temperature. An internal temperature of 165 degrees F will kill salmonella in chicken. To accurately measure the internal temperature, insert the meat thermometer into the thickest area of the chicken, or if cooking a whole chicken, into the inner thigh near the breast. Be sure to use separate plates, cutting boards and utensils for the raw or partially cooked chicken as you prepare it.

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Wash with soap and warm water anything that has touched the raw chicken. This includes your hands, dishes, cutting boards, knives, faucets and counter surfaces. Wash for 20 seconds, or for two rounds of the “Happy Birthday” song.

Tip

Use a kitchen trash can with a foot pedal that can be opened hands-free. These trash cans are the safest way to dispose of raw chicken or its container, since you won’t spread salmonella by touching the lid.

Warning

If you touch raw chicken, then touch the kitchen faucet right before washing your hands, you can re-infect your hands by touching the kitchen faucet again as you turn off the water. Be aware of what you touch so that you can wash it thoroughly.

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About the Author

Julia Brucker

Julia Brucker is a museum educator at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and a passionate urban gardener. She has written articles on culture and gardening for the Art Story Foundation and Opposing Views Cultures. Brucker holds an M.A. in art history and museum studies from Tufts University, as well as a B.A. in German and art history from Lawrence University.