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Chicken food safety: the ultimate guide

schedule 22nd September 2017 by Ben Piper in Food and Drink Last updated on 28th May 2019

Chicken food safety

Why is safe cooking so important?

Chicken is the heart and soul of so many delicious dishes, be it chicken korma, chicken parmesan, a Sunday roast, chicken pie or spicy fajitas. Chicken’s diversity as a meat means that you’ll find it in so many of the nation’s favourite foods, being both succulent and flavoursome when cooked properly and provides a great source of protein.

However, if you don’t store it right and fail to cook it properly then it can lead to foodborne illnesses with a variety of unpleasant food poisoning symptoms from chicken. So, we’ve compiled a guide which covers all the areas you’ll need to ensure the chicken you’re consuming is safe.

Buying chicken

Supermarkets won’t store chicken that is not fit for consumption, but there are still ways to check whether the meat will be tender or fresh. If the breast of the chicken is pliable to touch, the chicken is likely to be young and the meat should be tender.

Contrary to popular belief, the colour of the chicken’s skin has no influence on whether the meat is fresh or nutritional.

Storing chicken

All raw chicken must be refrigerated as soon as possible, otherwise it will be unsafe to eat within a matter of hours. Even when the chicken has been cooked, it is important to store it in the fridge in order to prevent spoilage.

Raw chicken should be kept away from other meats and stored on the lowest shelf in the fridge to prevent the juices from leaking and contaminating other foods.

Freezing chicken

If you want to store your chicken for a long length of time, or if you’re buying in bulk, the best way to do so is to freeze it. However, this will result in the chicken being less tender and juicy once cooked.

According to Chowhound, ground chicken can last up to three months in the freezer, while chicken pieces can last up to nine months. The best way to store chicken in the freezer is to separate each breast and wrap it in foil, plastic wrap or freezer paper so that they don’t become stuck together.

Defrosting chicken

Defrosting chicken is pretty straightforward, but it is important not to do this at room temperature as this meat is extremely susceptible to bacteria growth. The best ways to defrost chicken are either in a microwave, in a fridge or sealed in a leakproof bag and placed in a bowl of cold water.

Cooking chicken

Cooked chicken should never be pink on the inside, should have only clear juices running from it and be piping hot with steam emerging from it. The best way to ensure your chicken is safe to eat is to measure the temperature with a thermometer - if the internal temperature of the chicken is 73.9°C (165°F), then it is safe to consume.


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Ben Piper - Virtual College

Author: Ben Piper

Ben is a member of the Virtual College marketing team. He has a degree in economics and writes about business and education issues. In his spare time he loves food, drink and films.

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