Undercooked Poultry Causes Food-Borne Illness

CANADA - The University of Manitoba reports improperly cooked poultry remains one of the main contributors to incidents of food borne illness in the home, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 23 December 2008
clock icon 3 minute read

Food borne illness statistics show food prepared at home is the second leading cause of food borne illness.

Dr Rick Holley, a food safety and food microbiology professor with the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, says statistics from the US indicate poultry is a major contributor to food borne illness.

Dr. Rick Holley-University of Manitoba

This time of the year in particular when many of us enjoy turkey as one of the main meals around Christmas time. It has to be appropriately cooked to kill pathogenic bacteria that would normally be present on pretty well all poultry carcasses.

I'm thinking of two organisms that cause major problems, salmonella which is familiar to most folks, and then another group of organisms that are lesser well known but more important in terms of the frequencies at which they cause illnesses, campylobacter.

Both of these organisms affect the fluid balance in the gastrointestinal tract and so we suffer tummy upset, diarrhoea, sometimes fever and vomiting.

These conditions or symptoms persist for probably two to three days with an onset originally of up to a day and a half after eating the food that has been contaminated.

So adequately cooking and making sure that raw foods don't cross contaminate the cooked food after it comes out of the oven are extremely important in prevention of food borne illness at home.

Dr Holley says that while these illnesses will usually self resolve, sometimes older people, younger people or people with weakened immune systems can suffer fatal consequences.

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