Today I wanted to explore some of the things I have learned about chicken. I’m sure many have heard about the deplorable conditions of some mass poultry farms, if you haven’t this article may change how you think about and buy chicken. I’m not a vegetarian, but do believe that the food that we eat should be raised respectfully and have the consumer in mind in what the animal eats. Check out my Chicken Safety Guide below!
I’m a big fan of USDA Organic Chicken, the USDA regulates the standards for this labeling of chicken. GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are not to be used in organic products, so the chickens cannot eat GMO grown corn. These chickens are also not to be irradiated, which, of course, is more than likely way better for you than radiated chicken. These chickens also must be free of genetic engineering practices and the use of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, and growth hormones are prohibited. Look for the label below to buy this type of chicken at your local store.
Something to watch out for is when chicken is labeled with something similar to “no antibiotics administered”, if you see this without the USDA Organic label, it may or may not be true. Also if you see the term “no hormones”, it doesn’t really mean anything as compared to any other US piece of chicken since the USDA bans all hormones in raising poultry.
I also don’t put a lot of weight behind the term “free range” since that can be put on chicken that lived inside, but had access to the outdoors, even if only briefly during the day. So if the door to the chicken house was left open for only 20 minutes a day, that could be considered free-range or free-roaming chicken.
Chicken Handling Tips
Having a decent chicken that has been raised organically is not always enough to keep chicken safe from things like salmonella and campylobacter. To prevent the consumption of these bacteria, use the following guidelines:
- Grab your chicken at the store immediately before checkout (no sense in warming it up for 30 mins while you are shopping the non-refrigerated aisles).
- Get the coldest chicken possible, yes you’ll see me digging to the back or bottom of the case to get that perfectly cold chicken!
- Make sure the wrapping of the chicken is good, if the wrapping looks odd or the chicken is leaking, do yourself a favor and don’t buy it.
- Whenever practical freeze the chicken for at least 24 hours before using it, it will help kill off nasty invisible things like salmonella.
- If you can’t freeze it, you better keep it cold! (40 degrees or below).
- When thawing frozen chicken, keep it in its packaging and on a plate in the refrigerator. Thawing chicken on the counter can cause the outside to warm up faster than the thawing inside, which grow all sorts of nasty bacteria.
- Never, ever, ever cross contaminate cooked chicken with raw chicken, don’t use plates, tongs, or utensils that touched raw chicken for cooked chicken.
- Once your chicken is cooked, make sure it hits the refrigerator or freezer within 2 hours of cooking.