The Majority of Homes are Undercooking Chicken According to Recent Plos One Publication
A recent study conducted in Norway and published by Plos One, a peer reviewed scientific journal, tested whether European households properly cooked chicken and what safety precautions they took to avoid food poisoning. By improperly cooking chicken, consumers are at risk for Salmonella and Campylobacter, which are the largest source for food poisoning cases in both European countries and in the United States. In fact, the CDC recently released research stating that food safety standards in the United States were declining, or at least stagnant, as the number of food poisoning cases in 2019 increased compared to other years, with an increase in the amount of Campylobacter cases and no change in the amount of Salmonella cases compared to previous years. The current study focused on whether or not consumers adhered to safety protocols while cooking chicken and what protocols consumers deemed as necessary to avoid improperly cooked chicken.
The European Food Information Council (EUFIC) states on their website that meat and poultry should maintain an internal temperature of 72 degrees Celsius for two minutes, with no pink meat, and if one cuts through the thickest part of the meat, juices should run clear not pink. The USDA states on their website that poultry should have an internal temperature of 73.9 degrees Celsius at a minimum – that is 165 Fahrenheit.
The study found that consumers rarely used a food thermometer when checking the doneness of chicken, typically because they did not have one or they did not think it was necessary. In fact, when researchers tested the validity of common kitchen thermometers, they found that most thermometers had faulty response times to measure the internal temperature in cooked chicken, making it difficult to take the variety of measurements necessary to evaluate whether the chicken was properly cooked.
The research also found that many methods used by consumers for evaluating if the chicken was properly cooked or not, such as assessing color of juices and inner texture, did not equate to the chicken being fully cooked. These methods often leave chicken undercooked and also do not necessarily kill foodborne illness causing bacteria, such as Salmonella and Campylobacter. The current study concludes by advising the European government to share proper advice on properly cooking chicken, such as to make sure all surfaces of chicken are cooked, and that the proper internal color of chicken (pale) is reached, as well as the correct internal texture of chicken (a fibrous structure in the thickest part of the poultry).
According to National Food Poisoning Lawyer Ron Simon, this research would probably look the same if conducted wholly in the U.S., given his experience with food poisoning cases like salmonella from both residential and commercial kitchens. “The number one cause of salmonella poisoning in the U.S. remains poultry,” says Simon, “including many cases from handling small chicks, to undercooked chicken, to cross contamination in eh kitchen when preparing chicken for meals.”