This Common Food Can Reach Consumers Even If “Dangerously Contaminated” With Salmonella

In the United States, chicken is king. According to the National Chicken Council, we buy more chicken than any other food that takes center stage on our dinner plates. We choose chicken much more often than seafood and even more than beef. In fact, it is estimated that Americans will consume 98.2 pounds of chicken per capita this year alone—up considerably from 1960 when it was 28 pounds per capita.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that salmonella infections are the leading cause of hospitalizations and death from food poisoning in the United States. Guess which food is a significant source of salmonella contamination? If you guessed chicken, you’re right.

“The salmonella illness rate in the United States hasn’t changed [much] in over 20 years,” said Dr. James Kincheloe, the food safety campaign manager for the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). “We’re at the point where there is wide agreement that more needs to be done to protect the public.”

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Improper handling Shutterstock

If you didn’t already know, salmonella can’t survive on chicken if the meat is cooked correctly. But, it can survive on your countertops, sink, sponges, fingers, clothes—any surface that has been touched by the contaminated meat and hasn’t been properly cleaned afterward. Despite consumer education efforts by the CDC, USDA, and the National Chicken Council, consumers still aren’t handling their food properly to ensure bacteria like salmonella and others don’t end up in their bellies and potentially cause harm.

“Most consumers don’t fully implement all the food safety precautions we should be taking even when we’re cooking for ourselves, and we also don’t always have control of who is preparing our food,” says Sarah Sorscher,

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