You'd struggle to find someone who isn't vegetarian or vegan who doesn't like chicken in some form or the other. It's one of the most widely eaten meats in the world. In fact, only pork is more widely consumed, accounting for 36 percent of the planet's meat intake while chicken accounts for 33 percent.
To sum it up, the world loves chicken. But a recent revelation has exposed poultry as the leading cause of foodborne illness outbreaks. According to a new analysis undertaken by the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), per Health.com, more than 100,000 people fell victim to food-related illness outbreaks between 2009 and 2015; and chicken intake was the number one cause.
Chicken consumption was responsible for more than 3,000 and about 12 percent of those cases.
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Pork and seeded vegetables came in as the second and third as causes of foodborne illnesses with more than 2500 (about 10 percent). Fish and dairy, though, were responsible for more individual outbreaks, but they got fewer people sick and the outbreaks were smaller.
Instances are considered outbreaks when two or more cases of a similar illness stem from the ingestion of a common food. Between 2009 and 2015, 5,760 outbreaks were reported to the CDC that resulted in 100,939 cases of illnesses, 5,699 hospitalizations and 145 deaths across all 50 States plus Washington D.C and Puerto Rico.
Nearly half of the outbreaks were linked to a single virus, bacterium or toxin. Norovirus was found to be the chief cause. The aforementioned can be transmitted when infected people handle food.
The Salmonella bacteria, usually found in raw chicken, eggs, red meat and contaminated produce, was the second leading cause of said outbreaks.
Given how common chicken is, how does one protect him or herself from such risks? Only last week, a court case regarding a fit, healthy woman, who died after eating uncooked chicken in Greece, made headlines. She was found to have contracted E. Coli by a coroner.
The CDC advises that poultry, as well as ground beef, should always be cooked thoroughly and leftovers should be refrigerated after eating.
They also advise against foods that list raw eggs such as mayonnaise, ice cream, salad dressings, and cake frostings.
It's wise to safeguard against cross-contamination by abstaining from washing raw chicken before cooking it, as droplets can transfer bacteria such as Salmonella and Campylobacter to clean surfaces. These microorganisms can also remain in sinks and establish a niche if they aren't properly sanitized.
Instead, remove any unwanted parts with shears, dispose of them in the trash, and cook the chicken thoroughly in order to kill any lingering bacterium or virus.
Lastly, any uncooked meats and poultry should be kept away from everything else in one's kitchen. It's always been preached to use separate cutting boards and utensils during preparation. Hands, cutting boards, and utensils should then be thoroughly washed with soap and water post handling.