Poultry Safety Information

Outbreaks of foodborne illness have long been associated with poultry and eggs, usually by undercooking or cross-contamination of other foods by raw poultry.  Here’s some basic safety information about poultry from the USDA / Food Safety Inspection Service website:

Can poultry with expired use-by dates still be used?  The use-by date is for quality assurance; after the date, peak quality begins to lessen but the product may still be used.  If a use-by date expires while the chicken is frozen, it can usually be used, but is not recommended.  Maximum shelf life for frozen chicken is usually one year.

Should raw poultry be rinsed or soaked before cooking?  It is not necessary to wash raw poultry.  Any bacteria which might be present are destroyed by cooking properly.  Raw poultry can be handled with bare hands, but always make sure to wash hands immediately after handling it and before touching other ready-to-eat foods.

What’s the liquid in the package?  Many people think the pink liquid in packaged fresh poultry is blood, but it is mostly water which was absorbed by the bird during the chilling process.  Blood is removed from poultry during slaughter and only a small amount remains in the muscle tissue.

How long can poultry be marinated?  Poultry may be marinated in the refrigerator up to 2 days.  Be sure to boil used marinade befoe brushing on cooked chicken.  Discard any uncooked leftover marinade.

What color is healthy, raw chicken?  Chicken skin color varies from cream-colored to yellow.  Skin color is a result of the type of feed eaten by the chicken, not a measure of nutritional value, flavor, tenderness or fat content.

Is chicken with dark bones safe to eat?  Yes.  Darkening occurs primarily in young broiler-fryers.  Since their bones have not calcified completely, pigment from the bone marrow can seep through the porous bones.  When the chicken is cooked, the pigment turns dark.  It’s perfectly safe to eat chicken meat that turns dark during cooking.

Bottom Line: To keep poultry safe, follow the tried and true food safety rules of good personal hygiene practices by food handlers, cross-contamination prevention and time/temperature controls.

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