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How to Avoid Salmonella When Preparing Raw Meat

Wednesday, May 22, 2019 8:40 AM

With the Memorial Day weekend coming up, everyone will be heading outdoors to grill. When preparing raw meat, whether it's beef or chicken, it's important to keep your preparation area clean and your tools properly sanitized. Jennifer Grant, MD, Infectious Diseases at NorthShore, talks about how to properly prepare and sanitize when using raw meat.


What is Salmonella? Salmonella is a bacteria that can cause fever, diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pains if ingested. People can get sick from salmonella after eating raw or undercooked meat, poultry and egg products. Following a few simple steps can significantly reduce the risk.

Storing the raw meat. After purchasing a cut of chicken and turkey it is important to store it properly. When returning home from the store make sure to place the meat in a cleaned and sealed container. Placing the container at the bottom of the fridge will ensure juices from the raw chicken or turkey won’t drip onto other food in the fridge. When freezing the raw meat, make sure to do so immediately after putting it in a dry and clean container.

Prepping kitchen items. Having a clean kitchen is critical in avoiding foodborne illnesses. Make sure the surfaces of cabinets as well as the pan the chicken or turkey will be cooked in are clean as this will help fight off many germs. It is also important not to wash the meat because bacteria may be in and around the sink.

Prepping chicken and turkey. Once the raw meat is out, make sure to use a clean cutting board and kitchen tools that are only dedicated to raw meat to eliminate cross contamination with other foods you are cooking.  Frequent hand-washing is the most important way to prevent infection. Always wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds after handling raw chicken or turkey.

What to look for after cooking. When the meat is finished make sure the juices run clear and there are no pink spots in the chicken or turkey. The internal temperature of the chicken and turkey should be 165 Fahrenheit. Cut into the deepest part of the meat for your check as this part takes the longest time to cook. Make sure to use clean kitchen tools when transferring the cooked meat out of the pan.

Clean up. Make sure to clean up thoroughly, including the surfaces where the chicken was prepped and all the items used in meal prep.  

It is important to never leave raw chicken or turkey out to thaw to room temperature as it will be more susceptible to harmful bacteria.