What’s not to love about an oozy egg, especially over biscuits and gravy or a corned beef hash? Potential salmonella infection, that’s what. Salmonella is among the most common causes of food poisoning—and it can turn up in your egg courtesy of an infected laying hen.
How to avoid food poisoning: The risk is relatively rare, but if you’re feeding little kids, the elderly, or anyone with a compromised immune system, cook the egg thoroughly to kill off any dangerous bacteria. Opt for hard-boiled, thoroughly scrambled, or over-well eggs. Another option, says Francisco Diez-Gonzalez, PhD, professor and director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia in Griffin, is pasteurized eggs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has created Ask Karen, a service that allows you to submit questions about eggs, meat, and poultry and get a response any time of the day or night.
A piping-hot rotisserie chicken from the grocery store is a quick and tasty meal—just be sure to eat it while it’s still hot. If you leave it on the counter for a couple of hours, any bacteria on the bird could begin to flourish. (This is true if you roast your own chicken, as well.) “You have to assume that the raw chicken and its juices are contaminated,” says Patricia Griffin, MD, chief of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Enteric Diseases Epidemiology Branch, and act accordingly.
How to avoid food poisoning: Bacteria can double every 20 minutes at room temperature; keep your food out of the danger zone—between 40 °F and 140 °F—until you’re ready to eat it. If you left the chicken on your counter for more than two hours, you’re best off throwing it out.
“Cut up the rotisserie chicken in pieces so they cool quickly to a safe temperature,” says Marianne H. Gravely, senior technical information specialist at the Food Safety and Inspection Service at the USDA.
If you’re cooking your own roasted chicken, don’t wash it—you’ll only spread germs. Instead, focus on cooking it to the right temperature. According to the USDA Meat and Poultry Roasting Chart, the bird should be cooked until the internal temperature is 165° F, which amounts to about 20 to 30 minutes per pound (with an additional 15 to 30 minutes if it’s stuffed) at 350° F. If you’re not sure why your stomach is feeling off, here’s how to tell the difference between a stomach bug and food poisoning.
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There’s a growing trend to eat chicken liver on the underdone side, but that could be a very risky choice, explains Dr. Griffin. It’s still chicken, and the livers can be loaded with the bacteria Campylobacter, she warns.
How to avoid poisoning: Be wary of recipes and menu items that recommend preparing the delicacy “lightly sautéed.” The livers should reach an internal temperature of 165° F and have a crumbly texture.