Almost 2 million pounds of ready-to-eat chicken was recalled this month, expanding from the original November 23rd recall of 17,439 pounds. Although the recall is only a safety procedure, and it is not certain that the chicken is undercooked or contains dangerous bacteria, National Steak and Poultry urges everyone to take special precaution and either dispose of the food immedaitely or return it to the place of purchase.
All of the ready-to-eat packaged chicken was produced between August 20 and November 30 of this year. Check here for a complete list of all recalled chicken products, available on the US Food Safety and Inspection Service website.
As of yet, no illnesses have been reported from products related to this recall, but undercooked chicken is a serious issue that can arise from anyone's kitchen, so it's important to know how to prevent illness by properly storing and cooking your chicken, and how to recognize the signs of salmonellosis so that you can seek treatment quickly.
The main concern of consuming raw chicken is the bacteria Salmonella, which causes severe sickness. Thoroughly cooking the chicken can kill Salmonella, but you should also be aware of any cross-contamination that could cause the bacteria to spread to other foods and surfaces, which could allow it to infect people, even if they did not eat any undercooked chicken.
Store any raw chicken in a closed container or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, and place it on the bottom shelf or drawer, away from any other foods. Make sure that if it drips, it would not contaminate other foods. If you suspect that another food has possibly become contaminated, it is best to dispose of the item.
If raw or undercooked chicken comes into contact with any dishes, objects, or surfaces, clean the area thoroughly. If you are cooking on a surface that may be difficult to clean, consider placing the chicken on another surface instead. Try to use an area that other people are not in constant contact with, especially if they are preparing other foods.
Be sure to cook your chicken completely by taking the inside tempature with a thermometer in multiple places, and as deep as possible. 165 degrees Fahrenheit is the magic number to go by to ensure that bacteria has been killed off.
When eating out, you obviously can't be sure that all of these steps have been taken, but always check the meat before digging in. Chicken should not appear pink in the center, and definitely should not look bloody!