A lot of people, especially children, crave for chicken during meal time. Chicken meat is high in protein and low in fat. It is a good component of a low fat high protein diet. It can fill up one’s appetite with just a short serving and can give one enough calories for a whole day’s activities. Chicken may be one of the most delicious foods that can be served in the dining table but can also be the most dangerous one by simply causing food poisoning. So, how does one prevent this from happening? Read on for tips on how to prevent food poisoning from chicken.
Food poisoning or medically known as food-borne illness is any illness that results after consuming a contaminated food, pathogenic bacteria, parasites or viruses rather than natural or chemical toxins. Foodborne illnesses are usually a result of poor handling, preparation and storage of foods. The key in minimizing incidences of food poisoning is through good hygiene practices. When speaking of good hygiene practices, it includes proper hand washing and proper food preparation.
Food poisoning does not happen immediately after consuming a contaminated food. Symptoms will start to appear 12 to 72 hours after consumption of the said food. There are about 250 types of food borne diseases and most of them are caused by bacteria such as Campylobacter jejuni (accounts for about 77.3% of foodborne illnesses in the United Kingdom in the year 2000), Salmonella (accounts for 20.9% of foodborne illnesses in the United Kingdom in the year 2000), and Escherichia coli 0157:H7 (accounts for 1.4% of foodborne illnesses in the United kingdom in the year 2000). Other bacteria that may cause food poisoning are: Shigella, Listeria, and botulism. The two most common types of bacteria that are commonly found in raw chicken are Campylobacter and Salmonella. These two bacteria can cause chicken food poisoning especially if the chicken is not properly handled and cooked. Aside from bacteria, viruses and parasites can also cause food poisoning. Even natural components of foods like those found in toxic mushrooms can cause food poisoning.
Symptoms of food poisoning from chicken
Signs and Symptoms of chicken food poisoning are as follows:
• Diarrhea with or without dehydration
• Stomach upset or stomach ache
• Bloody stool
Diagnosis of food poisoning involves proper physical assessment which includes review of food taken for the past 24 hours. Stool exam may be advised to check for causative agents. Complete blood count may also be taken to check for white blood cell count. An increase in white blood cells may indicate infection.
Treatment of chicken food poisoning includes proper hydration and antibiotics. Since one of the symptoms of food poisoning is diarrhea, one problem that may arise is dehydration. To prevent this from happening, one is hooked to an intravenous fluid for proper and fast fluid replacement. When taking antibiotics, one should adhere strictly to the course of therapy. If the physician advice a week or two of antibiotic therapy, one should complete it in order to ensure the death of the pathogen and at the same time prevent resistance to the antibiotic. If resistance occurs, higher dose of antibiotic may be prescribed which is usually more expensive. On the other hand, if the causative agent is parasitic in nature, anti-parasitic drugs may be taken.
Prevention is always better than cure. The best way to prevent chicken food poisoning is through proper kitchen hygiene. When cooking or preparing chicken meat, be sure to wash the hands properly. The finger nails should be trimmed since bacteria or other pathogens usually hides under the nails. In all circumstances, avoid cross contamination. You can do this by using separate utensils in handling cooked and uncooked chicken. Also, do not cross over an uncooked chicken over a cooked one so to prevent the drippings from contaminating the cooked chicken.
When storing chicken, store it on the freezer or in a place where temperature is below 40 degrees fareignheight because studies show that bacteria can easily multiply in temperatures between 40 to 140 degrees fareignheight. If in case you will be cooking a chicken the next day, do not leave the chicken in the counter to defroze it. You can place it on the refrigerator overnight then submerge it in cold water. If it is already soft, you can start cooking it.
When cooking chicken, be sure to let the meat stay on the cooking pot for quite some time in order to ensure that the inner meat is cooked. You can actually check if the inner meat is already cooked by simply cutting a piece of chicken and visually assess the meat. If there is still blood on the meat or if it is still white, it means that it needs more time on the cooking pot. Cook the meat under a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure that the bacteria in the chicken meat will die.
After cooking, clean all utensils properly. Wash all knives, chopping board, plates, and cooking pot with antibacterial soap and cleanse it off properly under running water. Should there be any leftovers, immediately place them on the refrigerator. In heating leftovers, expose them under medium heat for 15-30 minutes in order to kill any bacteria that may have grown on it while it was in the fridge. Do not forget to check if the food has fungus, has different color and smells funny before reheating it. If it does, discard it. Do not attempt to reheat and eat it.