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Does Your Chicken Need A Bath?

Posted on: September 17th, 2013

Do you wash chicken and poultry before cooking?  Unless you just dropped it in the dirt, there
is absolutely no reason to, and it could even make you sick! Don’t do it, here’s why…

Chicken Caprese with mozzarella, tomato and basil, from Tony’s Deli Case.
Simply rinsing poultry can contaminate your sink, faucet, clothes, towels, tools, countertops and other foods in the area. When rinsing, tiny droplets can cross contaminate your counters, clothes, tools and other foods via splashing and aerosolization. If you touch these areas, or the raw chicken, you can also cross contaminate everything else you touch, like the faucet, towels, knives, cutting boards light switches, the baby, the dogs and anything else in reach.

About Salmonella
Salmonella is just one source of salmonella; it’s also common with unpasteurized milk or juice, contaminated raw fruits and vegetables, pet foods or treats and reptiles such as snakes, turtles and lizards. Those most at risk of salmonella include: young children, pregnant women, the elderly or frail, transplant patients, patients getting radiation treatment or folks with a weakened immune system.


Curry Chicken with Bombay Rice from Tony’s Deli Counter.
Safe Poultry
Proper cooking is the only way to kill bacteria on poultry.  Here are some other tips
to minimize the chance of getting dangerous bacteria in your foods…
Thaw it Right
Always keep your poultry refrigerated until ready to
use.  If frozen, DON’T thaw on the
countertop; bacterium multiply at exponential rates at room temperature. Thaw frozen poultry (and all meats) slowly in the refrigerator in the original package
and on a plate to catch any juices that may drip. If raw chicken juices do
escape into your fridge, simply clean up with the tips below. If you are in a real rush, thaw in a plastic bag and in tepid water; this will speed thawing and keep the water cool for a safe temperature overall.
Tony’s Herb Roasted Chicken

Poultry Skin

The bird’s skin is where most of the bacteria and fats
reside, so a lot of folks choose to remove it first. Our butchers are pleased
to do this for you, just ask!  If you do
it yourself, try using a damp towel between your hands and the skin, this makes
it much easier to grab and pull. Then sanitize the towel and use to clean up.
If you leave the skin on, worry not, it will heat many times
higher than the inside of the bird and is perfectly safe.
Safe Preparation and Cleanup
When it’s time to cook, unwrap your bird and place it back
on the butcher wrap.  Season and place
directly into the roasting pan (have it ready!), or back onto the
butcher wrap and move to the stove or grill to cook.
Proper Poultry Cleanup
Once your poultry is cooking, add 1 TBS of chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of warm water to make a sanitizing solution of about 200 ppm chlorine (NO MORE!). Wash everything that may
have come in contact with the poultry (hands, knives, countertops, faucet handles, cutting boards, towels, etc) and leave it in contact with the solution for 60 seconds. Once sanitized, it’s
important to rinse everything well with clear water – sanitizer isn’t good for you
Do take care with sanitizing solutions, just because it says
“anti-bacterial” doesn’t mean it’s safe to eat!  Whatever sanitizer you use, be sure to rinse
everything well afterwards!
Tony’s Portuguese Marinated Chicken from the meat department, great in the oven or grill!
Safe Cooking Temperatures
Get a reliable meat thermometer and cook your chicken to at
least 165° in the deepest part of the thigh and it will be perfectly safe. At 165° internal, areas near the
let and thigh joints can still be a bit red, if this bothers you, cook it a
little more, but never over 185° internal (overcooked chicken isn’t any safer, just drier and tougher!). A good meat thermometer is a GREAT investment, saving thousands of meals in its lifetime, not bad for $10 – $100
My brother DJ inspecting a chicken farm
Chicken Farms and Processing
I’ve toured our chicken farms processing facility and they
take every possible step to reduce the bacteria that’s naturally associated with
poultry.  The henhouse is sanitized and
nesting materials replaced before a new batch of chicks is moved in, and anyone
who enters must wear a special suit, hairnet and foot covers.  The air and water entering the henhouse is
filtered and the birds are protected from wild birds and pests that can carry
When the birds are harvested, the attention to cleanliness
is amazing.  Once again we had to put on
a hair net, beard net and special suit to even enter the facility, and we had
to sanitize our shoes and wash our hands every time we changed rooms.
In the last step of production fresh poultry is chilled in a
bath of sanitized ice water.  I thought this step was impressive and
feel it’s far safer than the ‘air-chilled’ fad.
So no, your bird doesn’t need a bath, and proper cooking and cleanup will keep your family perfectly safe.
Please share this blog with fellow foodies!

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