When you think of poultry, the first thing that usually comes to mind is chicken. It is one of the most common and widespread domestic animals, reaching billions in population.
Its meat is low in fat and highly concentrated on the skin. A single serving of chicken has four grams of fat and 31 grams of protein, compared to 10 grams of fat and 27 grams of protein for the same portion of broiled skirt steak.
America thinks of itself as a nation of beef eaters, but for the first time in over a century, Americans are consuming more poultry than beef. Chicken may be the preferred source of protein for many, but it is also one of the well-known causes of food poisoning.
What Is Salmonella?
Salmonella is a name given to an entire family of bacteria that encompasses over 2,300 individual serotypes. Each of these is a microscopic organism with a single cell, with the two most common accounting for approximately 74% of infections in the USA in 2016. These two types are Salmonella Typhimurium and Salmonella Enteritidis, better known as typhoid fever and gastroenteritis respectively.
Raw chicken contains certain species of salmonella, a bacteria living in the intestines of humans and animals that cause foodborne illnesses. It is more common in the summer than in the winter because the bacteria grow stronger during warm, humid weathers.
What Causes Salmonella Food Poisoning?
Eating food or consuming liquids contaminated with certain species of salmonella bacterium causes dire food poisoning. When it comes to poultry, you can be at risk by:
- Failing to allow the chicken to defrost thoroughly.
- Consuming the juices of bloodied chicken.
- Cooking chicken under wrong temperatures.
- Using the same chopping board for both raw and cooked chicken.
- Eating chicken past its ‘best before’ date.
- Leaving uncooked chicken in warm temperatures, allowing bacteria to thrive.
Additionally, chicken food poisoning is also caused by:
- Processing of ill or infected chickens.
- Contamination by unwashed hands. A frequent cause is a food handler who neglects washing his or her hands after using the bathroom.
Taking Note of Symptoms
The symptoms of salmonella food poisoning appear within 8 to 72 hours after consuming raw chicken. In most cases, they can be aggressive and last for up to 48 hours.
Typical symptoms during this acute stage include:
- Bloody Stool
- Abdominal pain and cramping
Dehydration is also a common symptom of salmonella poisoning and can be very alarming for children since there is a possibility for severe dehydration to cause death.
Many animal-based dishes are perfectly edible in their raw state, like the crowd-favorite sushi. Beef tartare, salami, and carpaccio are popular examples of raw beef dishes. While uncooked fish and beef have reached mainstream acceptance, people are urged to avoid raw chicken for the very reasons listed above.
If you have a weak immune system, you are more likely than others to become infected with salmonella. Once you handle poultry properly, cook it at its recommended time frame and temperature, and use separate utensils for cooking and serving, you will be well on your way to prevent food poisoning from affecting you and your family.