Food safety

Check out our tips and advice on handling, storing and cooking chicken and turkey properly.

Tools:

Always use the “clean, cook, cover, chill” approach when preparing, cooking and storing chicken and poultry.

Clean

  • Ensure poultry is well covered and stored in the bottom of the fridge (to ensure its juices do not drip onto other meats and ready-to-eat foods) as soon as possible after purchase.
  • Contrary to rumours, it is not a good idea to wash your poultry before cooking it. When washing the bird, water can easily be sprayed around the kitchen, unwittingly causing cross-contamination of surfaces up to two metres away.
  • It is important to remember that cross-contamination can be a major cause of food-borne illnesses. Food-borne bacteria can be transferred into your mouth from contaminated fingers to glasses, beer cans, and bottles when you remove twist-off tops and tear tabs. Therefore, always wash hands in hot soapy water and dry thoroughly before handling food and after handling raw meat and poultry.
  • When washing hands, use the 20+20 rule (wash for 20 seconds, dry for 20 seconds).
  • Wash knives, utensils, and chopping boards in hot soapy water and dry between preparation of foods.
  • Meat and poultry juice spills are best cleaned up with disposable paper towels, not dish cloths, hand towels or tea towels. Hand towels and tea towels should be changed daily.
  • Keep your fridge clean, as bacteria can survive in the fridge for some time.

Additional cleaning tips to prevent cross contamination:

  • Microwave ovens provide an effective means of sterilizing wooden chopping boards (3-4 minutes, 800W) and dish cloths (wrap cloth in paper towel and microwave until steaming, usually from 30-60 seconds). Make sure you rinse cloths and chopping boards under the tap to remove surface dirt before microwaving.
  • Cleaning chopping boards and dish cloths in a dishwasher is also an effective method of eliminating harmful bacteria.
  • Following cleaning, chopping boards and benches can be wiped with a diluted bleach solution (1 teaspoon bleach in 2 litres water) or branded disinfecting spray, to ensure harmful bacteria are destroyed.
  • Dish cloths can be sanitised by soaking in shallow water overnight, with 5-10 drops of ordinary household bleach, or for the traditionalists, a good launder and a day's exposure to the wind and the sun's UV will suffice.

Cook

  • Always cook poultry well, never medium or rare. When poultry is cooked properly, all the juices from the poultry are clear, not pink, and the poultry reaches an internal temperature of at least 74oC (as measured from the thickest part of the breast or the innermost part of the thigh). The use of a meat thermometer is recommended.
  • To test whether the poultry is cooked without the use of a meat thermometer, skewer the thickest part of the thigh and observe the colour of the juices. Do not eat any poultry that is rare or has any pink juices.
  • It is a good idea to pre-cook bone-in poultry before barbecuing.
  • Once cooked, don't leave poultry out at room temperature, or leave in an unheated oven for more than one hour. Poultry should be kept hot (above 60oC) or cold (below 4oC). Place leftovers in the refrigerator after steam has evaporated (no longer than one and a half hours). To cool large quantities, divide into smaller portions and refrigerate.
  • Re-heat leftovers to at least 70oC for a minimum of two minutes, and do not reheat more than once. If re-heating in the microwave, turn or stir the poultry regularly to ensure the re-heating is even. Cover dishes to retain as much moisture as possible, and to assist in re-heating the food all the way through.
  • Do not re-heat poultry more than once.

 

Cover

  • Cover cooked poultry leftovers immediately after they have finished steaming and put them in the refrigerator. Make sure poultry leftovers are not in contact with any other foods, meat or meat juices. Always store cooked poultry in a covered container at the top of the fridge, above raw poultry.
  • Cover all foods before storing, either inside or outside the fridge.
  • Keep raw meat and poultry covered and away from ready-to-eat cooked products, fruit and vegetables.
  • Store raw meats and poultry in the bottom of the fridge (to ensure juices don't drip onto other foods).
  • Always wrap uncooked poultry before you put it in the fridge.

 

Chill

  • A chilly-bin is a good way of keeping chilled and frozen products cold when taking them home from the supermarket, especially in the summer. Do not leave poultry sitting in the car for hours before refrigerating. Likewise, put a frozen chilly pad with your picnic foods to keep food cold.
  • Ensure poultry is stored in a fridge operating at a temperature between 2oC and 4oC. Always cook poultry before the Best Before date, or freeze it on the day of purchase.
  • Frozen poultry should be stored at a temperature of minus 18oC or colder.
  • Always thaw poultry in the fridge or microwave; never on the kitchen bench at room temperature.
  • Bacteria that cause food-borne illnesses thrive at room temperature - keep food either very cold or very hot.
  • If you are barbecuing, keep poultry in the fridge or a chilly bin until just before it is cooked.

Whenever your handling raw meat & poultry, always wash your hands regularly & use the 20/20 rule: Wash for 20 seconds, dry for 20 seconds.