We all know that poultry meat is a perishable food item, because it contains most nutrients required for bacteria to grow. If proper storage conditions or preservation treatments are not employed, poultry meat will spoil within a matter of hours or days. It is therefore very important that your food be handled carefully, so as to keep it safe to eat.
Here are some guidelines for the safe handling, storing and preparation of poultry meat:
- Raw poultry should be refrigerated promptly. Never leave it on the countertop, at room temperature;
- Chilled chicken should be cooked or frozen within two days
- Do not take raw poultry out of refrigerated storage until it is needed;
- Thaw frozen poultry meat in the refrigerator, microwave or in cold water but never at room temperature. NOTE that the recommended safe temperature range at which poultry should be thawed is 32°F - 41°F;
- To thaw poultry safely in cold water, it should be left in its original packaging or placed in a water tight plastic bag. The cold water in which the poultry is being thawed should also be changed often;
- When thawing poultry meat in the refrigerator place it in a covered container on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator;
- Thawed poultry meat should be cooked immediately;
- Never refreeze thawed poultry meat;
- Always ensure that poultry meat is thawed completely before cooking;
- Ensure that you cook poultry meat thoroughly. It should always be cooked well done not medium or rare. The internal temperature after cooking should be at least 180°F for whole chicken, 170°F for bone-in-parts and 160°F for boneless parts;
RECOGNISING FRESH POULTRY MEAT
- Must be at a temperature of 40°F or lower;
- Should have no discolourations;
- Flesh must be of a firm texture – springing back when touched
- Should have no abnormal odour.
RECOGNISING SPOILT POULTRY MEAT
- Has a purplish or greenish discolouration around the neck;
- Has darkened wing tips;
- Has an abnormal odour;
- Has soft, flabby flesh;
- Has a sticky feel under the wings and around the joints.