The President of Foster Farms released a note this week, explaining to consumers that procedures are in place to lower incidence of Salmonella illness outbreaks, however, as long as food is handled and cooked to the proper temperatures, it is safe to eat, stating:
On behalf of everyone at Foster Farms, I am sorry for any foodborne illness associated with our fresh chicken. No illness is acceptable to us and that is why we have fully responded to the USDA and have new interventions in place that are sure to make Foster Farms one of the safest producers in the nation.
The USDA and California Department of Public Health confirm that Foster Farms products are as safe as any other poultry product in the U.S. when properly handled and fully cooked. USDA-FSIS inspectors continue to inspect and approve the safety of Foster Farms chicken daily at each of our plants.We stand by our products with a 100 percent quality guarantee – we always have. If you have concerns about any Foster Farms products, please contact us. We have worked hard to earn your trust over nearly 75 years and we are doing everything we can to retain that trust.
Read the full letter and outbreak details here.
On October 8, 2013, the Food Safety and Inspection Service reassured the public that, “Foster Farms chicken is safe to eat but as with all raw chicken, consumers must use proper preparation, handling and cooking practices," adding, "We want to remind consumers that all raw chicken, regardless of brand, must be properly handled and fully cooked to ensure safety. All raw poultry products should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F as measured by a meat thermometer."
The USDA and Medical Daily explain that cooking poultry to the proper temperature kills any Salmonella, or E. Coli for that matter, that could be living in the product, and offer these six tips on how to prevent the spread of bacteria in your kitchen.
1. Don’t Wash The Chicken
Ben Chapman, food safety specialist at North Caroline State University, told LiveScience that washing raw chicken can actually promote cross-contamination, or spreading the germs from chicken onto other foods and your kitchen surfaces.
“If you could see germs, you would see that washing poultry just splashes bacteria all over you, the kitchen, and other foods,” according to Drexel University’s “Don’t Wash Your Chicken” public health initiative. Cooking the chicken thoroughly without washing it will kill the bacteria without needlessly spreading it onto other surfaces.2. Prevent Cross Contamination
Cross contamination can happen at any point, from the moment you touch the packaged raw chicken at the grocery store to the time you're preparing it in your kitchen. The most important detail to look for is any juice leaking out of the package. Be sure to place the chicken package into an individual plastic bag to keep it self-contained.
Paying attention to washing your hands and separating meat utensils from those you use for chopping vegetable are also important practices. Raw meat and its juices can spread bacteria across knives, your hands, your apron, and the kitchen counter.3. Know the Difference Between Frozen and Fresh
When buying fresh chicken meat, it should feel soft and cold, but not frozen. Fresh meat refers to raw poultry that has never been held in temperatures lower than 26 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). With fresh meat, make sure to place it in the refrigerator immediately after buying it for no more than 1-2 days before cooking. If you don’t plan on using the chicken after the second day, freeze it.
Chicken and other raw meats that are frozen can last indefinitely in the freezer. Once cooked, you can place the meat in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Foodborne bacteria is more likely to multiply at a temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, the USDA states on its website. So the longer you keep your meat at extreme temperatures — frozen, refrigerated or on the pan — the safer your meat will be.4. Thaw Properly
Thawing frozen meat can be done in the fridge, or by placing the chicken in a bowl of cold water. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) also recommends microwaving as an option. Be sure that the outside of the meat isn’t above 41 degrees Fahrenheit for more than four hours.5. Cook Thoroughly
Perhaps the most important part of preparing chicken is cooking it thoroughly to ensure any traces of bacteria are fully killed. The only way to properly check whether a chicken is cooked properly is by inserting a thermometer into the meat to read its internal temperature, whether you’re frying, baking, or grilling the chicken. The chicken's interior should be at 165 degrees Fahrenheit, and the temperature should be measured at several spots inside the chicken to ensure consistency. The USDA offers a chart detailing the approximate proper cooking times for various chicken parts.6. Reheat Leftoves To The Proper Temperature
Even if the chicken was cooked fully to 165 degrees Fahrenheit initially, it’s important to make sure chicken leftovers are reheated to the same temperature the next day.
For more information about the current Salmonella outbreak, read the USDA’s current public health alerts here