Cross-contamination of chicken
Importance of food safety in the kitchen
Being safe in the kitchen is equally as important as serving the food. Being physically aware of equipment around you and of possible cross contamination hazards is so important when producing and serving food. It is very important to be aware of customers’ allergies and intolerances and the danger that cross-contamination can cause. It also encourages you to have a clean, hygienic and risk-free kitchen.
One of the main danger areas of cross-contamination is found when raw and cooked produce are not handled correctly. For example poultry is a high risk food because it is a “high biological value” (HBV) protein meaning that bacteria can easily grow and multiply increasing the risk of food poisoning, like salmonella.
I have included here a “how to” handle raw chicken safely as part of my recent recipe “crispy chicken wings”
How to prevent cross-contamination when handling raw chicken
I have used this recipe from Cafe Delites https://cafedelites.com/crispy-buffalo-chicken-wings-baked/
Ensure chicken is fully defrosted before use
The most important thing when using chicken from the freezer, is to ensure that it is fully defrosted before you cook it. If there are still ice crystals in the middle when you are heating the chicken then the inside and outside are going to be different temperatures and will cook unevenly increasing the risk of having undercooked chicken on the inside.
Putting the chicken on kitchen roll on a plate at the bottom of the fridge is the safest place, this ensures that no meat juices drip onto any other food in the fridge and there is no chance of cross-contamination. It also allows the meat to defrost safely and out of the danger zone. The danger zone is the temperature between 5°C to 63°C. If any food is left within these temperatures it is at higher risk of bacteria multiplying.
Use dedicated equipment for raw meat
Using a red board which is only used for raw meat means that no bacteria can be transferred to any other food prep. Washing the board up immediately after you have finished also helps eliminate any meat juices spreading around the kitchen.
Using clean, hot, soapy water to wash the equipment you have just used for preparing chicken will ensure that you don’t end up washing other equipment in chicken contaminated water. Hot water will kill the maximum amount of bacteria.
Just on a precautionary side of things using a sharp knife is a lot safer than using a blunt knife because with a sharp knife you can guarantee that it will cleanly cut the food so you don’t accidentally slip and do more damage to your hands than if you were cutting with a blunt knife.
Wash your hands
Washing your hands between every step when handling high risk foods such as chicken is essential. Foods high in protein and moisture are considered high risk foods because it is the perfect environment for bacteria to spread if not taken care of in the correct way. Always use hot soapy water and wash & dry thoroughly.
Use different clean utensils for raw and cooked meat
Using a pair of clean tongs here to flip the chicken over is sensible because then you are not having to touch the chicken with your hands. Do not use the same tongs for raw or semi-raw meat as for cooked meat. Danger comes where people think it is OK using the same tongs without washing them in between for cooked chicken.
Check the temperature and cooking time
Ensure that the chicken has been cooked to the correct temperature for the required amount of time to ensure any bacteria is fully killed off. Generally chicken should be heated to around 75°C or 167°F to ensure it is fully cooked, however by extending the time the chicken is cooked for the temperature can be reduced.
The other time and temperature combinations are:
- 60°C for 45 minutes
- 65°C for 10 minutes
- 70°C for 2 minutes
- 75°C for 30 seconds
- 80°C for 6 seconds
The above combinations allow for different cooking methods like poaching at a lower temperature for longer or deep fat frying at high temperatures for less time.
Always check the middle of the thickest part of the chicken when taking the temperature to ensure you don’t have any cold, raw spots.