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Reviewed 5/22/2024

Cooking poultry: A safety quiz.

Salmonella. Campylobacter. Listeria. These are just three types of illness-causing bacteria you can get from eating poultry that hasn't been prepared safely. How much do you know about avoiding foodborne illness from chicken, turkey, duck and other poultry?

True or false: If poultry packaging at the store is leaking, wrap it tightly in one or two plastic bags before putting it in your cart.

False. Don't buy poultry in packaging that is leaking or torn. It's a perishable food item that needs to be kept securely wrapped. Choose poultry that has been properly packaged, and keep it away from other foods.

True or false: You should refrigerate raw poultry within two hours, especially on hot days when the temperature is above 90 degrees.

False. On hot days when the temps are pushing above 90 degrees, get that raw poultry in the fridge within one hour. When the weather is cooler, refrigerate poultry within two hours to avoid potential foodborne illness.

True or false: Raw poultry can be refrigerated in a marinade for up to two days.

True. You can marinate the bird in a food-grade plastic bag or bowl—or a stainless steel or glass container. Cover poultry while it's marinating in the refrigerator. If you marinate a bird in a plastic bag, throw away the bag afterward. Don't use the marinade as a sauce later, either, unless you boil it first to destroy bacteria.

True or false: You should wash poultry before cooking it.

False: Washing raw poultry can help spread bacteria by splashing juices around your kitchen. Everything around your sink, like the countertop and utensils, could become contaminated. But make sure to wash your hands, equipment and kitchen surfaces to avoid cross-contamination.

True or false: Unstuffed poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

True. The only way to know if poultry is cooked thoroughly is to use a meat thermometer. Insert the thermometer in the thickest part of the bird—usually the innermost area of the thigh. Be sure the thermometer isn't touching a bone. And if you stuff the poultry, the internal temperature should reach 165 degrees in the center of the stuffing.

True or false: You may need to throw out the bird if you accidentally leave plastic-wrapped giblets inside during cooking.

True. If the giblets—the heart, liver and gizzard—were in a plastic bag that was altered or melted during the cooking process, don't eat either the giblets or the bird. Harmful chemicals may have leached out into the meat. However, if the bag is paper or the plastic was unaltered, the giblets and the bird should be safe to eat if cooked to 165 degrees.

There's more to food safety than keeping just your poultry safe to eat—you should take care with everything you make.

Learn how to cook with care


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