M. Bittman's "chicken" piece scared me. Srsly. what's most effective way to wash away salmonella, in add to temperature?



lloreen October 24, 2013
In addition to other advice, I suggest getting a cutting board that you only use for chicken and another for meat me fish. I have a plastic board that I can then clean with a bleach cleaner and put through the dish washer. For non meat products, I use a nice wooden board that can be simply cleaned with soap and Water. This helps me avoid cross contaminating vegetable dishes. Also, if you use a knife to cut chicken, wash it really well in hot water before cutting anything else.
ATL October 22, 2013
Thanks for the answers about eggs! Haven gone through a horrible case of food poisoning a year ago, I definitely to avoid the experience again!
mainecook61 October 22, 2013
In addition to all of the thoughtful suggestions above--how about not buying chicken "parts," as opposed to a whole chicken? Trays of thighs or breasts or wings are cut up factory chicken. For example, there will be parts from several chickens in the same tray of so-called thighs (a chicken has only 2), plus the cutting process opens up a bird to further contamination. Buy a whole bird. Cut it up yourself, if you want parts. (Invest in a good pair of poultry shears.) Chickens from farmer's markets can be nice, but many of them are the same stupid breed (White Cornish, bred to grow fast and disinclined to free range even if the door is wide open) as commercial
chickens. I raise my own birds, but if I were to buy them, I would avoid cheap trays of chicken parts.
ChefOno October 22, 2013

ATL: Today's conventional, commercially-produced USDA-graded eggs are a pretty safe bet. Current estimates are that only 1 out of every 20,000 eggs are contaminated, causing less than 1 percent of foodborne illness.

That said, the runny yolks of poached eggs will not have achieved pasteurization. You can eliminate the risk by holding them in a covered pan of hot water at a temperature of 150F for 15 minutes which, by the way, is an excellent method when serving to a large group.

usuba D. October 22, 2013
ChefOno's advice is very good. I would like to add that most food poisoning issues in the home & food plants comes from cross contamination. What you don't see/can't see is the very fine spray of the bacteria from any wetness of the product and packaging whilst handling. This is where one needs to be the most diligent in food safety practices. Unfortunately, the more we become "sanitized" the more we become susceptible to food poisoning. . . . bit of a catch-22 as our bodies lose the ability to protect us from the littlest buggers.
pierino October 22, 2013
I'll second usuba dashi on that. Cooking kills salmonella but then there is that risk of cross contamination. That's the part you don't see coming. It could be your board it could be your hands. Wash your hands.
ATL October 22, 2013
Sorry--need not would!
ATL October 22, 2013
Chef Ono, as usual I appreciate your expert comments on food safety. I know the problems with eggs, but am not sure what this means in terms of consuming them. For example, is it safe to eat a slightly runny poached egg if the white is cooked through? Or to be safe, does that mean that all yolks we'd to be cooked through for complete safety?that would be bleak. . .
hardlikearmour October 22, 2013
The bacteria resides in the yolk, so if it's not cooked thoroughly they could still be present. If you have a competent immune system a small load of Salmonella bacteria won't make you ill. If I remember my vet school bacteriology correctly it takes something like 1,000,000 Salmonella organisms to cause an infection. So if you have a Salmonella infected egg, and it's stored at refrigerator temperature the organisms won't reproduce rapidly and will probably be below the threshold needed to cause infection. Plus not all eggs are infected. So odds are a runny yolked egg won't make you sick if you are an adult with a competent immune system.
ChefOno October 22, 2013

Salmonella can be present within chicken flesh for the same reason it can live within eggs -- chickens aren't affected by the bacteria so they can walk around like little feathered Salmonella Marys. Stuffed birds aren't a safety issue as long as the stuffing reaches the same 165F.


Voted the Best Reply!

ChefOno October 22, 2013

Bittman, as usual, is stirring a pot he has seasoned with fear, uncertainty and doubt. Last time I read one of his pieces he was up on his soapbox claiming sugar was toxic. Here we learn he doesn't know the difference between blood and protein nor the first thing about pasteurization.

A smart cook treats *all* chicken as if it were contaminated with pathogenic bacteria because most of it is. In my kitchens we call chicken juice "salmonella juice" (which Bittman thinks is blood) to remind ourselves of the danger. If it's not salmonella, it's campy, e. coli of some other bacterium.

Practice good kitchen hygiene, cook the chicken to 165F (as registered on a digital thermometer) and you'll be fine. And perhaps stop reading politically-motivated people with books to sell.

pierino October 22, 2013
I'm on the Ono team here. You can't wash off salmonella. However cooking kills the bacillum---same with e-coli for you raw spinach and sprouts fans. Now let's talk about listeria...
petitbleu October 22, 2013
The reality of poultry is that they carry salmonella. This is true whether you're talking about huge factory farms or small backyard flocks. Chickens are dirty, and they carry lots of nasty germs, viruses, and diseases. The scary thing is when you have a huge poultry operation, this problem is greatly exacerbated by population density.
From what I understand, short of bleaching your chicken (don't do that), cooking to the correct temp is really the only way. The article suggests that cooking may not kill all salmonella. I'm sure this is probably true in some cases, and I don't know what you could do to kill the salmonella if this is the case.
Much has been written about not rinsing your chicken off in the sink, simply because, if there is salmonella or some other nasty germ present, it will simply get sprayed around the area near your sink. Gross. Also, even thorough rinsing is not going to effectively remove the salmonella from the chicken. In theory, the higher populations of salmonella would live on the exterior of the chicken--the skin and perhaps the cavity. Cooking to the proper temperature would kill the salmonella in these areas because, as they are closer to the surface, they reach a much higher temperature than the interior flesh of the chicken (this is why I don't stuff poultry ever--the potential for yummy salmonella-laden chicken juices soaking into a bread stuffing does not appeal to me in the slightest. This may be my own neurosis, but I'm pretty okay with un-stuffed chicken).
Now, I don't know how salmonella would get into the chicken's flesh, but I'm guessing it's possible. That's where the problem would get a bit more icky. This is why you should not buy certain cuts of red meat at, say, Costco. Costco jaccards (tenderizes with a tool that basically pokes little holes all over the meat) all the tough cuts (for instance, brisket) of red meat. The problem with this is that it can introduce bacteria into the interior of the meat. Bacteria on the surface is easily killed by searing, but on the interior? Not so much. Of course, they don't jaccard chicken, but you take my point--internalized bacteria=much harder to kill.
In short, I don't know what the answer is, short of changing the entire system, which is not going to happen. I know that as soon as I can, I'm going to start up my backyard chicken flock again, though. I'm aware that this isn't even a remote option for many people, so it's not a viable solution to the overarching problem. But what are consumers to do when even the agencies designed to protect them are the antithesis of proactive?
Meaghan F. October 22, 2013
I read that too!! I would think twice about washing your chicken though... A study was released last month that indicates washing chicken actually *spreads* germs through flying water droplets. Here's a link: http://www.drexel.edu/dontwashyourchicken/
Your best bet? If possible, try to buy your chicken from a farmers market or butcher.
Dona October 22, 2013
I read that too, I almost wish I hadn't.
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