Q. After I've cooked with chicken, how can I tell whether I've cleaned my counter tops, cutting board and utensils well enough to prevent bacterial contamination?
A. Although salmonella bacteria is found on most chicken sold in this country, it is seldom implicated in salmonella outbreaks. (Eggs seem to be a more common source of outbreaks, according to federal government records.) This is because cooking chicken to 180°F kills the bacteria.
However, it is still imperative to clean up well after handling raw poultry. We checked with four government sources on food safety -- the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the National Institutes of Health, the Food Safety and Inspection Service, and a state extension office -- and each gave the same information:
- Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood separate from other foods in your grocery shopping cart.
- Use plastic or other nonporous (not wood) cutting boards, and wash them in the dishwasher or in hot soapy water after each use. Use a different cutting board for raw meat products than you use for other foods.
- Wash your hands, cutting boards, dishes, utensils, sink, counter tops -- anything that was touched by the food -- in hot soapy water. Use paper towels and discard after use, or, if you use cloth towels, don't use them for another purpose until they've been washed in the hot cycle of your washing machine. Sponges can hold bacteria, so clean them well in hot soapy water and change them often.
- Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood.
Many people use antibacterial soaps, but at least two expert organizations-the American Medical Association and the CDC-have been quoted as calling antibacterial soaps "overkill." Regular soap is sufficient.
From chicken safety in the kitchen, to barbecue chicken safety in the parking lot. Celebrate your favorite football team with food, and learn what you can do to make tailgating safe in the next article.