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Chicken – handling it the safe way!

Chicken – handling it the safe way!

Your Food Safety

If you are cooking today, a big possibility would be that you are cooking some form of poultry. ‘Poultry’ applies to the wide range of birds which include chicken, ducks and turkeys.

And, as with any perishable food, bacteria can be found on raw or undercooked chicken which when consumed can cause illness. This is one of the reasons why, raw poultry must be handled carefully to prevent contamination to other cooked foods or foods that will be eaten raw; for example salads. A good example would be to never chop cucumbers on an unwashed cutting board just after cutting raw chicken on it.

For simpler communication, we’ll refer to chicken in all of the examples below.

How can I maintain the quality and safety of the chicken?

You must always refrigerate or freeze chicken directly after purchase in its original package.

How to defrost chicken?

You can defrost Chicken in 3 ways:

    • In the fridge by leaving it to thaw overnight
    • In cold water by submerging the packaged chicken and changing the water every thirty minutes
    • In the microwave for a few minutes but you should cook it directly after it is taken out of the microwave

Does liquid in the package mean bad quality?

Liquid in the package does not mean that it is bad quality nor is it blood. This can be mostly the water which was absorbed by the chicken when it was chilled.

What is the skin colour of a good quality chicken?

The colour of the chicken skin can vary from cream-coloured to yellow as a result of the type of feed eaten by the chicken. It is not a measure of nutritional value, flavour, tenderness or fat content.

The chicken smells unusual – Can I still cook it?

If you are suspicious about the smell of the chicken, it is always advised not use it. Throw the chicken away and dispose of the garbage to avoid contamination and an offensive odour in your kitchen.

Should I throw away chicken that has dark bones?

No need to do that; the darkening of bones is not a sign of spoilage. It can take place upon freezing or when the chicken is cooked. It is perfectly safe to eat chicken meat that turns dark during cooking.

At what temperature should I cook chicken?

To ensure safe cooking, it is recommended to cook the chicken at temperatures of 82-85 degrees Celsius measured in the chicken thigh using a food thermometer.

My chicken turned pink upon cooking - Is pink meat normal?

When chicken is cooked properly, it should be safe to eat. The pink colour development is normal and it is due to a pigment colour change.

How long can I store Chicken and use it at its top quality?

Chicken, Pieces1 – 2 days9 – 12 months
Chicken, Whole1 – 2 days1 year

For how long can I keep marinated chicken in the fridge?

Marinated chicken can be kept in the fridge for 2 days; after that, any uncooked marinade should be discarded.

How soon should I consume ready-prepared chicken sold in supermarkets?

When purchasing cooked chicken or fast food chicken, make sure:

    • It is hot at the time of purchase
    • You consume it within 2 hours
    • To refrigerate it in covered containers and eat it within 3-4 days
    • Or freeze it and use it within 4 months for best quality, flavour and texture


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