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Don’t Short Safe Handling of Chicken

July 1, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe try to provide a good, safe, wholesome product for our customers, like the majority of farms out there both large and small. Unfortunately, food is not sterile. Processors, be it small places outside or large ones with all the bells and whistles, try to minimize the risk. At some point the then-meat passes from farm to processor to consumer or, alternately, store then consumer.

At that point, we cannot control the handling of it, and in a new report, many consumers aren’t using enough caution in handling of poultry products.Some see it as blaming the consumer, but even if you slaughter your own chickens there is the possibility of contamination. Every step of the food chain must be diligent in insuring food safety – that includes us at the farm, the processor (which may be the farm or may be a commercial processor) and, yes, the consumer who is cooking chicken for dinner tonight!

While we are thrilled with chicken customers, we’re concerned with the findings of the study, because of not wanting to see anyone get sick from food. That’s true for chicken coming from us, but also from those who buy chicken at the grocery store with a large brand name like Tyson or Foster Farms, who financed the study to look at making foods safer, particularly in the case of chicken, of course.


Consider this:

The study analyzed video footage taken of 120 participants preparing a self-selected chicken dish and salad in their home kitchens. The participants were experienced in chicken preparation, with 85 percent serving chicken dishes in their home weekly, and 84 percent reporting being knowledgeable about food safety; 48 percent indicated they had received formal food safety training.

Cross contamination was of specific concern to researchers:

  • Most participants, 65 percent, did not wash their hands before starting meal preparation and 38 percent did not wash their hands after touching raw chicken.
  • Only 10 percent of participants washed their hands for the recommended duration of 20 seconds and about one-third of the washing occasions used water only, without soap.
  • Nearly 50 percent of participants were observed washing their chicken in the sink prior to preparation, a practice that is not recommended as it leads to spreading bacteria over multiple surfaces in the kitchen.

Insufficient cooking was also observed:

  • Forty percent of participants undercooked their chicken, regardless of preparation method and only 29 percent knew the correct USDA recommended temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Researchers observed that cooking thermometers were not widely used, with only 48 percent of participants owning one, and 69 percent of those reporting that they seldom use it to check if chicken is completely cooked. Most participants determined “fully cooked” based on appearance, an unreliable method according to the USDA. No participants reported calibrating their thermometers to ensure accuracy.

In comment sections recently on washing chicken I saw many of “everyone knows” – but clearly not everyone does. That leaves a risk of contamination in your own kitchen if not taking these things seriously. Note 65% did not wash their hands before starting meal preparation – that means all of the contamination on their hands is transferred to the chicken. Of the 35% that did wash their hands, many did not use soap or wash for a full 20 seconds. Many don’t cook thoroughly, increasing risks of food safety.

As we come up to the holiday and summer grilling, chicken may be on many menus due to the prices of beef and pork. Be SURE to pay extra attention to handling, washing hands, safe handling methods to insure food safety. A meat thermometer insures meat is cooked to 165 degrees for safety (make sure it’s not touching bone to give a false reading!).

Failure to do so can put your family and guests at risk, and we don’t want that. Be safe in the kitchen, and the grilling. As we heat towards Independence day, I’m thankful that for the most part we have a safe, plentiful food supply with a wide range of food choices.

lemon chicken mediSpeaking of chicken – how about this recipe for your grill courtesy Jennifer Christman, RD and Nutrition Manager at Medifast?

Lemon Scallion Chicken & Vegetable Kabobs

Prep time: 15-20 minutes + 30 minutes soak time for wooden skewers
Cook time: 10-15 minutes
Yields: 3 servings


24 oz raw, boneless, skinless chicken breast (should yield three 6-oz cooked servings)
2 cups (2 small) summer squash*
2 cups (18 medium) mushrooms, quartered
1-1/2 cups (1 small-medium) zucchini*
1 cup (8 medium) cherry tomatoes
*Half lengthwise, then cut into 1” chunks


Lemon scallion sauce:
3/4 cup (4-6) scallions, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt or salt substitute
6 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp hot red pepper sauce
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper



1.If using wooden skewers, soak in water 30 minutes.

2. In small bowl, combine scallion sauce; set aside. (You may wish to reserve part of this sauce for finished kabobs.)

3.Preheat grill to medium heat.

4.Thread kabobs with chicken, zucchini, squash, mushrooms, and tomatoes.

5.Brush kabobs before and during cooking with sauce.

6. Grill kabobs 10 minutes, turning once, until cooked through.

Each serving counts as: 1 “Leaner” Protein Serving; 1 Healthy Fat Serving; 3 Vegetable Servings; 3

Optional Condiment Servings


Nutrition: Cal 380; Total Fat 11g; Sat Fat 2.5g; Chol 145mg; Sod 520mg; Total Carb 13g; Fiber 4g; Pro 56g

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