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Washing chicken can spread salmonella

October 09, 2013|By David Pierson
  • The salmonella outbreak in Foster Farms chicken has proved virulent. The CDC said 42% of those sickened have been hospitalized, double the normal rate. Some of the current strains have shown resistance to antibiotics as well.
The salmonella outbreak in Foster Farms chicken has proved virulent. The… (Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty Images )

With 300 people already sickened by a salmonella outbreak in Foster Farms chicken, consumers are being reminded to take extra precautions when handling raw poultry.

High on that list is something counterintuitive: Don't wash raw chicken in the sink.

Researchers say all that splashing can send bacteria soaring up to 3 feet away, onto your countertops, towels and dish racks. That increases the chance of it landing on other foods or on your hands.

Here's what the U.S. Department of Agriculture has to say:

"Some consumers think they are removing bacteria and making their meat or poultry safe. However, some of the bacteria are so tightly attached that you could not remove them no matter how many times you washed. But there are other types of bacteria that can be easily washed off and splashed on the surfaces of your kitchen. Failure to clean these contaminated areas can lead to foodborne illness."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends separate cutting boards for meat and produce to minimize the chances of cross-contamination.

Salmonella can cause diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness typically lasts four to seven days and most people recuperate without treatment.

However, the current outbreak has proved virulent. The CDC said 42% of those sickened have been hospitalized, double the normal rate. Some of the current strains have shown resistance to antibiotics as well.

Though Foster Farms has not issued a recall, grocery chain Kroger Co. said Tuesday it was pulling off shelves chicken from three Foster Farms facilities identified as the origin of the outbreak. Kroger operates Ralphs and Food 4 Less.

The chicken in question are numbered with USDA marks of inspection P6137, P6137A or P7632.

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