Poultry preparation and cooking:

 Food processing, food safety and proper kitchen hygiene

Mechanized poultry processing

In almost every country of the world the processing of poultry: killing, bleeding, plucking, evisceration (taking out the abdomen and other non-edible parts, as well as edible parts like the liver, hart and the gizzard (stomach) is today executed by modern machinery, which, when correctly applied, results in a much more hygienic way of processing than some 10 - 20 years ago.

Cut chicken parts Mechanization allows for cleaning after each step in the process of both the product as well as the tools, these mostly being part of a machine (or in some cases even a kind of a robot).

Compared to the traditional way of chicken slaughtering, where most of the operations were executed by hand, mechanization has lead to prevention of cross-contamination by bacteria or virus, since it was obviously impossible to wash one's hands after each operation. Moreover poultry was often eviscerated on the table, evidently an immense source of contamination.

Other conditions that have contributed to the safety of poultry are climate controlled environment during the processing, stocking of the finished products immediately after the processing in refrigerated or freezing rooms, as well as temperature controlled counters in the shops and supermarkets. Also the clear indication of the latest date of consumption on the individual product helps to prevent consumption of a deteriorated product.

Although during hatching (incubation) and growing very strict and severe control is applied today, it is not always possible to prevent completely that sometimes infection with bacteria like salmonella or campylobacter (being the best known and most discussed bacteria by the public) will occur. It is true that these bacteria may cause problems rating from minor food poisoning (feeling sick for several hours but without further consequences) to even more serious problems or possibly even death with elderly and/or weakened people.

However, with the right treatment when preparing the meat for consumption these bacteria can be killed easily and successfully so that it can be consumed without problems.

chicken transport

Important preparations before cooking the poultry:

First of all it is important to keep the meat until the last moment (so just before preparing ) at a cool place (preferably of course, if possible in the refrigerator). This means that when preparing a barbecue to take out the meat only just when put on the fire and not when you still have to start the fire.

Also, it is better not to keep the rest on a plate outside in the sun for the second or third round. Bacteria multiply much quicker at temperatures around 20 degrees Celsius that when the product remains in the refrigerator (of which the inside temperature should not exceed 4 degrees Celsius).

When the meat is ready for consumption you have to put it on a clean plate, since, in case the meat would indeed have been contaminated before, you would recontamination it by the bacteria that would be on the used plate. (Preferably use a plate and not a piece of wood that is often supplied as part of a barbecue set, since this is much easier to clean, especially when you use it to cut the meat on.)

Also use a separate fork and knife for the raw and for the cooked meat, since this may also cause re-contamination !


Finally note that when you prepare poultry the meat should always be completely cooked to be sure that the bacteria are removed. So no "rare" or "rosé" meat for poultry; well-done is the way to prepare a nice crunchy chicken that can be eaten safely !!

Unfortunately sometimes people are not always conscious of what they do, (even those who should know better !) as the following examples may indicate : "A chicken has been visiting a Chick-fil-A fast-food chicken restaurant in Bluffton, South Carolina, according to an article in the Carolina Morning News newspaper. Restaurant employees named the chicken “Little Truett” after the chain's founder S. Truett Cathy. They feed it bread and biscuits, but not chicken. It wouldn't be right to feed the rooster his own kind, manager Carlton Beall said. A Bluffton resident said he saw the rooster crossing a highway the day before the bird was spotted near the restaurant. The rooster may be a lost college mascot. (The University of South Carolina’s mascot is a gamecock.)"

Note : Obviously I would not consider (and in fact strongly dissuade) having a meal in such a restaurant. There are very strict regulations as to how far a growing house has to be remote from a poultry processing plant in order to prevent contamination, but bringing a live product in contact with prepared meat is even worse !

story contributed by a nameless reader from the poultry processing business.

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